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Carbon Measuring: Your Questions Answered

We’re committed to reducing our impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future. We’ve calculated and published the carbon footprint of EVERY one of our trips – because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Being #ClearOnCarbon is just the start…

At Explore, we are committed to reducing our impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future. We think that you deserve to know the impact of your holiday. So we’ve counted every gram of CO2 emitted while you’re away and we’re sharing it online, along with our methodology so that other businesses can do the same.

Why is this important?

We're in a climate crisis and we all need to lower our carbon footprint. The problem is that currently no one really knows if what they’re buying has a large footprint or not. This includes our holidays - one of our biggest and most impactful purchases each year. Having a carbon label helps us avoid guesswork and false preconceptions.

Put simply, carbon labelling makes it easier to make sustainable choices as a consumer. And, as a business, it makes it clearer where change is needed and improvements can be made.

We know this is important to our customers. A Which? study found that around half of consumers would choose a more planet-friendly holiday if the option was available. Our own research shows that 76% of us would like greater transparency when it comes to our environmental impact. Being Clear on Carbon is our first step in being transparent about our trips, and how we’ll set out to improve them – for us, and for the planet.

Who are ecollective?

We’ve worked with independent carbon consultancy ecollective to help us measure the carbon footprint of every one of our small group tours around the world. A team of self-confessed carbon geeks, ecollective is committed to helping businesses fight the climate crisis. They do this by making it as simple as possible to measure carbon performance today and providing tools to improve it tomorrow.

Our aim was to calculate a highly-accurate carbon footprint per customer per trip, so our customers can quickly and clearly see the carbon footprint of a trip and how it compares with others. And so that Explore can use these calculations as a starting point to begin reducing carbon footprint and to accurately mitigate what’s left.

As with any calculation, it’s not perfect, but this framework is currently one of the most thorough and most accurate methods in the industry. The study measures the greenhouse gas emissions of all of our trips, and of the business more widely.
View the ecollective methodology

What is included in the calculations?

Every one of our 500+ trips, including:

  • • Accommodation  -we’ve measured every single accommodation that we use. That’s 1,853 providers!
  • • Transport – all modes, including buses, internal flights, trains, tuktuks, bikes…! And the distances covered by each.
  • • Activities and excursions - from city tours using public transport to the footprint of a stand-up paddleboard excursion.     
  • • Included meals – currently based on a high-meat meal as this has the highest footprint
  • • Guides, to include the emissions from their participation from day 1 of the trip

We’ve used our average group size (bespoke to each trip) to create the score, based on 2018/19 operations, a year unaffected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve also calculated the carbon generated by running our business, and divided these running costs between the number of trips – so every tour will include a tiny slice of those emissions too. These include:

  • • Office emissions, including allowance for people working at home
  • • Staff business travel
  • • Our website
  • • Virtual and in-person hosted events
  • • Staff commuting
  • • Our post and marketing materials

How have you physically measured it?

Nearly every single thing has a carbon footprint, so measuring the exact carbon footprint of a business could be a lifetime's work. With the climate crisis, we simply do not have the time. So we have made assumptions in order to measure the carbon footprint of everything that goes into running Explore and operating our trips.

This is normal practice in the carbon-calculating world, but our partners at ecollective go a step further than most. Many companies make too simple assumptions or use unreliable data, resulting in scores that are not as accurate as they could be. The more accurate our measurements are, the more targeted we can be when it comes to reduction. So year on year, we will aim to get more accurate whilst reducing our carbon footprint. 
For Scope 2 emissions we have followed the market-based method. When information or good quality data has not been available we have used location-based information as a proxy for the market-based method.

What’s not included – and why?

We haven’t included international travel to reach the start of our trips. With travellers joining our tours from all over the world, we can’t calculate all the different travel distances, methods, departure airports etc.  However, we do calculate the emissions from our customers flights, and include this in our total footprint calculations so we can be clear on our entire business footprint.
And we haven’t included additional meals or optional excursions, because they don’t have a fixed, measurable footprint. But we’ll be providing tips for selecting lower-carbon options for eating out, including what and where you eat, and activities too – but do consider what benefits the places you’re visiting, as well as being lower carbon.

Why are you still operating higher-carbon trips?

By their very nature, small group adventure holidays are a sustainable way to travel. While some of our trips are very palpably higher carbon than others, this should still be viewed through a lens of the greater industry.
In addition, it’s important to remember that carbon impact is just one part of creating sustainable trips that benefit the destinations we visit. Ensuring that we continue to support local businesses, using locally-owned and run hotels and restaurants and employing local guides continues to be vital. Meanwhile, we continue to support charities and initiatives all over the world.  Our Animal Protection Policy sets out to protect and improve wildlife, and contribute towards the best welfare standards in the industry. 

What now?

Having an accurate measurement for the carbon footprint of each of our trips is just the first piece in this puzzle. We are now able to identify where the emissions come from on each trip and work out how we can reduce them. Often this might be through simple tweaks such as using a public bus for an excursion, reducing emissions and offering a chance to interact with the local community at the same time. Rather than changing suppliers, we will be working collaboratively with our partners and providers – to educate them and help them to make positive changes over the next 12-24 months. We’ll also continue to measure, and to measure even more accurately as we start to log the types of fuels used by individual vehicles, for example, or recalculating meals for tours where we know largely vegetarian food is served.
As per our commitment to the Glasgow Declaration, we aim to reduce Explore’s footprint by 50% by  2030, and to achieve net zero as soon as possible - at least before 2050.
As ever, we aim to be completely transparent with the actions we take – where we have successes and where we fall short – and to communicate our journey every step of the way.