The Travel Corporation’s Climate Action Plan: Commitment to Net Zero
Global Sustainability Manager at TreadRight and The Travel Corporation (TTC)
Expert Team at TrainingAid
The Travel Corporation
The Travel Corporation is active in over 70 countries (with multiple offices, accommodation, depots, vehicles and service facilities).
- Identify and measure where your business operations and trip related activities are causing emissions. "You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure".
- Set targets for emission reduction that your business is obliged to achieve in a certain amount of time
- Foster exchange with others to continuously evolve and learn about new technologies and opportunities moving towards a low carbon economy.
- Initially, find "low-hanging fruit" opportunities to start implementing climate action without requiring major change / investment, while continuously working to develop or accelerate low-carbon alternatives.
- DON'T wait for others to catch up. Proactively advocate for low-carbon solutions, and work with others seeking to achieve net zero to demonstrate collective action.
Climate Action Plan and Commitment to Net Zero
Our industry was sent into disarray when COVID came about, and now, two years later, we’re finally beginning to regain the ground under our feet because of vaccines. But there’s no vaccine for climate change – and if we don’t act now to rebuild our industry in a sustainable way – one that takes responsibility for our emissions, prioritizes reduction efforts, and strives for net zero we will find ourselves reeling from the impacts of climate change – as so many places around the world have experienced with extreme wildfires and flooding for example.
TTC’s Climate Action Plan supports the commitments laid out in the company’s sustainability strategy, “How We Tread Right” - to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner, and to sourcing 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
- Measure: Measure the emissions from our business and trips.
- Reduce: Build on reduction efforts and set ambitious reduction targets by mid-2022. These targets are currently under review by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
- Remove: Through our TreadRight Foundation, invest in new technologies and nature-based solutions to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere.
- Offset: Engage in carbon offsetting for select operations as we transition to net zero. We will not use carbon offsets to achieve our reduction targets.
- Evolve: Continue to learn from others, invest in new technologies and support strategic alliances that enable us and the industry to move to a low carbon economy.
TTC’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Shannon Guihan, led the development of the Climate Action Plan, closely supported by TTC’s Sustainability Manager, Nadine Pinto. The plan was developed on behalf of TTC’s 40 travel brands with close engagement from brand leaders, and was signed off in early 2021 by Brett Tollman, Chairman of TTC.
You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure
The first of TTC’s five-point Climate Action Plan is “Measure”.
The company started working on carbon footprint measurement in 2019 by implementing measurement tools for both business operations and trips. Arguably this was the most important step as you can’t manage what you can’t measure - and this became the foundation of the Climate Action Plan.
Given the company’s scale - 21 offices, 22 depots, 24 hotels and facilities, 13 river cruises, and 500 vehicles - this carbon footprint measurement effort required a single cloud-based system to report and manage all energy data.
For measuring the footprint associated with tours and activities, a custom Trip Carbon Calculator was developed, addressing the emissions from transport, accommodations and meals. These constitute the majority of TTC’s “Scope 3” emissions.
According to the GHG Protocol corporate standard, a company’s greenhouse gas emissions are classified into three scopes.
- Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
- Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.
- Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions (not included inScope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions.
TTC was a launch signatory of the Glasgow Declaration, which launched at COP 26 in November 2021. The declaration obliges signatories to commit to delivering and reporting on climate action plans that align with the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.
Through TTC’s Climate Action Plan, the company has made a public commitment to setting carbon reduction targets and annually reporting on the progress. Since the publication of the plan, TTC has also begun working on science-based targets for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions that have been internally approved.
The targets will undergo review by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) later this year and then will be communicated externally. TTC will also publish its first Impact Report in 2022, demonstrating progress against all 5 points of the Climate Action Plan.
Publishing a Climate Action Plan is a way of signaling to TTC’s whole supply chain - and the wider tourism industry - that the company takes climate change seriously. As a major tour operator with operations in over 70 countries, TTC has significant influence over thousands of transport providers, accommodations and experience providers.
A key part of TTC’s climate action is to regularly inform others throughout the supply chain on the company’s sustainability initiatives. In 2022, TTC has also provided resources on how to develop a climate action plan with all suppliers.
In addition to scaling climate action through its global supply chain, TTC, through its commitment, aims to encourage the wider tourism industry to develop their own climate action plans.
Challenges with Implementing Climate Action Plans
For TTC, the most significant challenge in implementing the Climate Action Plan has been helping its employees and consumers understand it. For example, the language used in the plan contains several technical terms such as “net zero”, “carbon removal”, “nature based solutions”, which are complex, nuanced terms for the average person to understand.
To combat this, TTC developed a training course for all employees on the Climate Action Plan. It is an interactive course featuring quiz questions and visual representations. A series of podcasts has also been made available for employees to learn about the Climate Action Plan and concrete examples of TTC partners supporting positive climate solutions.
For consumers, easily digestible ways to communicate about TTC’s climate efforts are needed. Topics around climate are not always glamorous messaging, so the marketing teams have focused on breaking down complex concepts and strengthening the storytelling aspects of the company’s climate-related efforts. It’s also necessary to ensure communications are clear, concise and not greenwashing, so messaging is often a significant bulk of work.
The last point in the Climate Action Plan, “Evolve” is meant to address the inevitable challenges along the pathways to net zero. As new climate studies become available and low-carbon technology begins to accelerate, changes are inevitable, and it’s necessary to remain flexible and update the plan when and where necessary.
For instance, since launching in 2021 the language in the plan has been updated from “carbon neutral” to “net zero”, to better reflect TTC’s journey on setting science based targets and alignment with the Net Zero Standard. This space is continually evolving and so too must our approaches to planning and communicating about climate action.
This does, however, pose additional challenges to helping employees and consumers understand these efforts.
TTC’s Advice for Other Tourism Businesses
Creating a climate action plan can be overwhelming and you might fixate on changing the largest sources of emissions, however this is not always possible due to insufficient low-carbon alternatives. Don’t let that dismay you. Focus on low-hanging fruit that’s easier to implement and may require smaller behavioral challenges.
Simultaneously, seek out opportunities to develop or accelerate low-carbon alternatives if possible. The important part is to not “sit back” and wait for the industry to catch up - advocate for low-carbon solutions where possible and align your organization with others seeking to achieve net zero to demonstrate collective action. The Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism is one forum that may be useful.