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Susanne Etti | Environmental Impact Specialist at Intrepid Travel

As Environmental Impact Specialist at Intrepid Travel, Susanne is responsible for climate change performance, reporting, and implementing a culture of sustainability within the organisation.

Susanne has lived and worked in six countries and believes that "by empowering people through sustainable travel experiences, we can make travel better for everyone and simultaneously take care of our planet".

Read more about Susanne and Intrepid Travel below.

Can you tell us more about Intrepid Travel?

Intrepid Travel is a world leader in sustainable experience-rich travel and has been taking travellers to discover the world's most amazing places for more than 30 years. The company offers more than 800 trips on every continent and every trip — whether closer to home or further afield — is designed to truly experience local culture.

Travellers eat, sleep and get around the local way, going where the bigger groups can’t. With its own network of destination management companies in 23 countries, Intrepid has unique local expertise and perspectives. Globally renowned as a leader in responsible travel, in 2018 the carbon-neutral business became the world’s largest travel company to be certified B-Corp, joining a growing community of businesses looking beyond the bottom line.

Intrepid is the only tour operator with verified science-based carbon reduction targets and an industry leader in climate action. Its not-for-profit, The Intrepid Foundation, has raised over $11 million for more than 130 charities around the world since 2002.

Why is Intrepid Travel taking climate action?

We haven’t only recently become worried about climate change. In fact, our journey started in 2005 when a group of senior managers read The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery about the history and future impact of climate change.

That started to get us thinking. Fast forward and the feedback we received from our stakeholders, including our customers, was that they wanted us to take definitive action on climate. We subsequently became the world’s largest carbon-neutral travel company in 2010. Since then we’ve offset more than 358,000 tonnes of carbon emissions worldwide.

Being carbon neutral, this is no longer enough. Based on the facts we know today; we would be lying to ourselves if we were to continue as though there is nothing wrong with the travel industry. 

Over the last 15-years, the need for climate action has grown more obvious year on year. Not only is the changing climate leading to extreme weather events that threaten people and wildlife the world over, but it is a significant threat to our business. So many of the destinations we love may well be impacted by drought, fire, or other weather events over the next decade.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

Intrepid has been carbon neutral since 2010, with every one of our trips fully offset. In January 2020, we declared a climate emergency with Tourism Declares, a global collective of tourism businesses, organisations, and individuals who have pledged urgent action on climate change.

Our climate emergency is underpinned by a seven-point commitment plan. It includes continuing to measure our emissions, using 100% renewable energy in all our offices, and a commitment to ambitious emissions reduction targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) by setting a science-based target in line with a 1.5°C future.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

In 2020, Intrepid Travel became the first tour operator to set a science-based emission reduction target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at the pace and scale that science says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C. We are responding to a call-to-action for companies to set emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5°C future, backed by a global network of UN agencies, businesses, and industry leaders. Setting science-based climate targets will see us reduce our emissions across our operations and supply chains. 

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

The first phase of Intrepid’s decarbonisation plan will include a review of its top 50 itineraries to identify trips that include flights under 1.5 hours with a view to replacing these, where a viable alternative transport option exists. For example, Intrepid has already traded out internal flights with high-speed rail on the majority of its trips in China and continues to make similar changes elsewhere whenever there is a feasible land or road alternative available.

Intrepid is also developing new low-carbon trips by providing best practice sustainability guidance. This supports the development of itineraries that include low carbon-intensive modes of travel and activities. For example, the new Intrepid Premium range features a number of accommodations that use renewable energy. Trips also have experiences that support community, environmental, or wildlife conservation projects. 

Intrepid has grown its portfolio of walking and cycling-based trips, recognising that they are some of the lowest carbon-output trip styles, while also being in high demand as travellers seek outdoor active adventures following months of indoor quarantining. The onset of the pandemic accelerated the company’s focus on more travel options closer to home in its major source markets, resulting in the addition of 25 new walking tours and 15 new cycling tours across a range of destinations.

New ways of working and living during the pandemic also present opportunities. Air travel contributes the biggest share of the CO2 in the tourism sector. In the near term – a timescale that matters enormously to climate change – the only way to decarbonise aviation is to fly less, which travellers are already doing. The decline in business travel and new ways of working also presents opportunities.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

COVID-19 and the vaccination program rollout are at the top of mind in Australia now, but we mustn’t lose sight of the broader sustainability issues, particularly climate change.

While the pandemic poses a huge threat to the viability of the tourism industry, climate change poses an even bigger long-term threat. If anything, COVID-19 is highlighting how much more we could be doing to take climate action. It’s proven what can be achieved when governments work together, find funding, and take action. It has also shown us how much is possible if we have the will to change. 

For Australia, we’re already seeing and feeling the impacts of a changing climate. Loved tourism attractions, such as the Great Barrier Reef, and our native wildlife and biodiversity, draw millions of tourists each year. But these are under threat. Climate change is also impacting First Nations communities around the country. We need decisive and urgent action from all levels of government to ensure we have a tourism industry in the future.

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Casey Whitelaw | Founder of Go Neutral

Casey is the founder of Go Neutral, a carbon offsetting platform for automobile owners. Casey pivoted from a career in technology to focus on climate action to build a better future for the next generation. He sees a future where Australia isn't just net zero, but has become a carbon capturing superpower. A future where rebuilding our land has also rebuilt our economy, so that our country and people can thrive.

Read more about Casey and Go Neutral below.

Can you tell us more about Go Neutral?

Go Neutral makes it easy for everyone to take meaningful action on climate change. We make carbon offset products that support 100% Australian carbon removal projects. We believe in the power of positive action, and the importance of inclusion: together, we can make a real difference. We're starting with cars. Like it or not, most people need to drive, and it will be years until we all have EVs. Until then, get a Go Neutral sticker! When you buy a Go Neutral sticker, you make your car carbon neutral for a year. You've taken responsibility for your emissions, and you're also spreading the word about climate action wherever you go.

Why is Go Neutral taking climate action?

We want everyone to feel empowered to do more to slow climate change. You shouldn't have to be an expert or an eco-warrior. Real impact comes from getting more people involved: instead of demanding perfection, we want everyone to do what they can, and feeling great when they do!

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

We support Australian carbon sequestration projects because it builds a better future for us all. Regenerating our land not only removes carbon from the air, it also improves the soil, creates more forest, and strengthens our climate resilience. We are helping build a new regional industry.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

Go Neutral stickers are popping up everywhere. From inner-city hybrids to country utes, from family vans to a student's first car. Each one is a sign that people want to take action - and that action is easier than you think.

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

Every week, I meet people from different walks of life who care about climate, but don't fit the stereotypes we have. I want Go Neutral to help show that everyone can make a difference, and that it's much more important to focus on the big steps that you can take, than to be discouraged by the ways in which we can't be perfect.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

At this point, net zero 2050 commitments aren't enough: we need to start treating decarbonisation as an opportunity, and embrace it as fully and quickly as possible. We have been worrying about cost when we should be working out how Australia can lead the way to a better future for us all.

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Join the Public Transport Declaration

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Join RE100 because this is a great thing to do

RE100 is a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses driving the transition to 100% renewable electricity. Led by the Climate Group and in partnership with CDP, our mission is to accelerate change towards zero carbon grids at scale. Companies in the commercial and industrial sector account for around half of the world’s end-of-use of electricity. We're switching this demand to renewable electricity.

Behyad Jafari | CEO at the Electric Vehicle Council

Behyad is CEO at the Electric Vehicle Council. He sees opportunities for Australia's transport sector in transitioning to zero emissions, better futures. "Not only do we have the raw minerals required for battery production, but the innovative entrepreneurs to realise opportunities for industry development and job creation right across the value chain," said Behyad Jafari. 

Read more from our interview with Behyad below.

What is the Electric Vehicle Council? 

The Electric Vehicle Council is the national body representing the electric vehicle industry in Australia. Representing companies involved in providing, powering and supporting electric vehicles, our mission is to accelerate the electrification of road transport for a sustainable and prosperous Australia.

Why is the Electric Vehicle Council taking climate action? 

Transport is Australia’s second largest and fastest growing source of emissions. As our electricity system continues to decarbonise, the solution is simple, fuel our vehicles with renewable electricity. A move to EVs is not only good for the environment, but the health of our people and our economy. In Australia, more people die each from vehicle emissions than vehicle crashes. The transition to EVs has the more immediate impact of cleaner air, improving public health and reducing our dependence on imported oil.

What does climate action look like for the Electric Vehicle Council? 

Developing, advocating for and supporting policies to transition Australia’s vehicle fleet to electric.

Is there something you are working on that you are excited about?

We are working with State and Territory governments across Australia to transition all public bus fleets to electric.

What opportunities are presented by taking climate action today? 

The global transition to electric vehicles presents a massive opportunity for Australia. Not only do we have the raw minerals required for battery production, but the innovative entrepreneurs to realise opportunities for industry development and job creation right across the value chain.

Australian companies are already playing a massive role in the sector through charging, research and technology. Taking action on climate change looks to us like watering the green shoots of economic potential for Australia.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

I’m a big believer in setting strong and ambitious targets as a proven means to achieving goals. Australia should listen to the science and set emissions reduction goals that decarbonises our economy as soon as possible. From there, the goals and responsibilities of each sector can follow, including through a transition to an electric vehicle fleet.

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