A new website aims to help climate conscious travellers make more-informed holiday choices by calculating the carbon costs of British breaks and even day trips in response to the increase in domestic tourism during the pandemic.
Natural Britain, which launched in July, wants to become the go-to website for ethically-run travel in the UK, and claims to be the first company in the country to offer carbon labelling – a calculation of the carbon dioxide emitted – for every part of the trip.
Natural Britain hopes to appeal to the growing number of outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom have taken on new challenges or found a fresh appreciation for nature in 2020. Itineraries include a cycle tour of the Cotswolds, sky-running in Snowdonia and sea-kayaking in Scotland, and activity sessions and accommodation can also be booked separately. It hopes to feature 35 experiences by the end of the year, increasing to about 100 in 2021.
Although most are green, low-carbon trips, especially compared with foreign travel, founder Mark Wright said he wanted to make consumers more aware of the amount of carbon different aspects of a holiday generate, and hoped such labelling would become commonplace across the travel industry.
“If we all start to calculate our emissions, and everybody in the country aims for a personal footprint of 10 tons of carbon a year, there’s a much better chance of us making a meaningful reduction as a country, and as a world population,” he said.
On one of the company’s trips, on average accommodation accounts for 40% of emissions, transport 33%, food 25% and activities 1%. A five-day multi-activity break in Wales, for example, including packrafting, “riverbugging” (riding river rapids with an inflatable) and wild camping is labelled as generating 53kg of carbon dioxide per person, excluding food and reaching the destination. Advice on how to offset through a rewilding or reforestation scheme will be offered when bookings are made.
Aviation is usually responsible for 40% of global tourism’s carbon emissions, contributing 7% of the UK’s total emissions, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Yet, while the International Air Transport Association forecast air traffic would be down 66% in 2020 compared with 2019, and said it would go down as “the worst year in the history of aviation”, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization announced on Monday that climate-heating gases have still reached record levels. The reductionn of emissions of between 4.2% and 7.5% due to the pandemic was described as a “tiny blip” in the build up of greenhouse gases.
This doesn’t mean we should lose hope, says Wright, it just “stresses the urgency that we have to make changes for the long term”.
Carbon isn’t Natural Britain’s only concern. Experiences must also benefit local communities, something Wright says the domestic tourism market has been slow to recognise as worthwhile. They must have strong sustainability policies regarding sourcing locally and single-use plastic, and be able to back them