Published December 2021
Steppes Travel commits to giving an update at the end of every year, on its progress against set sustainability goals.
At the beginning of 2021 we committed to 3 main sustainability objectives
1. Have 100% of flights (both client flights and our staff flights) offset by end of 2021
Flights are the largest contributor to our holidays’ emissions but also the easiest element to assess.
This objective has been fully achieved.
- In June 2021, we created a calculator to accurately measure the carbon footprint of our clients’ flights. Since July 1st, 2021 for all new bookings departing from September 1st, 2021 our travel consultants have been using the calculator to enable Steppes to pay a corresponding offset based on £0.015 p/kg to World Land Trust (even if flights are not booked with Steppes).
- If our clients choose to upgrade from economy class flights, we are encouraging them to pay Steppes the additional off-set with World Land Trust. The facility to collect this money in a transparent fashion has been set up on our database.
- Payment will be made to World Land Trust retrospectively every half year (beginning of March and September).
2. Ensure 50% of accommodation booked is “net positive” by end of 2021
Accommodation is the second-largest contributor to the overall carbon footprint of our holidays.
This objective has not been achieved.
- Creating an objective and consistent metric that can be universally applied across all hotels will mean pushing this goal back to the end of 2022.
- We have successfully created a carbon survey, with the help of ecollective, which was circulated to approx. 1,000 hotels. The response was underwhelming at approx. 5%.
- We created the first draft of a metric to measure the positive impact of hotels (which when offset against the carbon measurement would give a net impact score) but given the poor response to our carbon survey, this has not yet been circulated.
- To achieve scale, objectivity and consistency, we have consulted with other travel industry stakeholders to work on a collaborative system of scoring the sustainability of hotels. This will be a key objective for Steppes in 2022.
3. Achieve carbon neutrality on our internal operations by end of 2022
We need to practice what we preach.
In 2020 we calculated that our office and UK operations had an annual carbon footprint of 1,983 kgs, based on the office working from home for most of the year. This was broken down as follows:
– Office (energy, water and waste): 279 kgs
– Business travel (includes travelling by train within the UK and overseas travel): 977 kgs
– Website: 727 kgs*
*Website: Ecollective’s calculation was based on the website’s average page size, annual page views and average carbon dioxide produced per downloaded MB. Our website’s hosting is managed by Cloudways and is currently on Google’s Cloud Platform in London where currently 59% of the energy used is carbon free and the remainder offset. Cloudways planted 10,000 trees as part of the million tree challenge in 2021.
- In 2021, the office continued to primarily work from home. Due to the pandemic, business travel was negligible in 2021 and so the carbon footprint for our office and UK operations has been calculated at 1,206 kgs (the equivalent of a return flight to Casablanca) which we will offset with World Land Trust.
- In 2022, we will need to look at the energy consumption of our team working from home to make this figure more accurate.
What else have we done in 2021 to enhance the sustainability of our business and augment the positive impact of our holidays?
- Philanthropy and core goals:
Appointed the following three projects to receive an equal share of approx. £40 pp for every client departing from September 1st, 2021:
- Biodiversity – Brigg tree project (Woodland Trust’s Northern Forest project)
- Female education – Room to Read
- Renewable energy – Practical Action
2. UN Sustainable Development Goals:
We have begun the process of adapting the holiday ideas on our website to be in closer alignment with at least three of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
3. B Corp application:
Pending a re-submission by end of 2021.
4. Campaigns – Black Rhino Friday:
On 26th November (so-called, Black Friday) the Steppes Travel office was closed, to give our team the time needed to run 27 miles (a mile for every 1,000 rhinos left alive in the wild) around our hometown of Cirencester, wearing a giant Save The Rhino rhino suit.
Our 2022 Sustainability Goals
During COP26, Steppes Travel signed the Glasgow Declaration which commits us to the following:
- We publicly accept the current IPCC advice that we need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming
- We are continuing to develop our Positive Impact Travel programme into a Climate Change Action Plan with a science-based target to halve our carbon footprint per client by 2025
- We commit to publicly communicating both our plan and our progress
- We will refine our product offering to reduce our carbon footprint and to ensure the sustainability credentials of the properties we work with
- We will work with our suppliers and partners, to encourage them to make their own declaration, and with the Tourism Declares community to share best practice and solutions with the wider travel industry.
- We will work together to reduce the carbon impact of our own office, both in and getting to/from the office
- We recognise the need for system change across the industry and will join others in calling for urgent regulatory action to accelerate the transition towards zero-carbon air travel
A strategy and action plan for 2022 will be developed with the above objectives in mind.
An additional objective is to work more closely with our Travel Consultants to give them the confidence to proactively sell the benefits of travelling sustainably.