Caring about Carbon

The contradiction isn't lost on us: we want to take you and your students on a life-changing adventure, but we have to rack up the air miles to do so. Read on to find out what we think about carbon offsetting.

We’re a school travel company, so you won’t be surprised to learn that we think travel is enriching, horizon-expanding, educational, stimulating, fun and important. We want to keep travelling, and we want to encourage you to travel. At the same time, we acknowledge that travel has an environmental impact. We listen to the scientific community when they report the damage that’s being done to the planet by emissions from cars and planes. So where does that leave us?

Most likely you’ll have heard of carbon offsetting. In a nutshell, this is a scheme that aims to compensate for our CO2 emissions by funding an equivalent emission saving elsewhere in the world. The idea of balancing emissions with savings leads to the notion of ‘carbon neutrality’.  So, you take a flight, you use a calculation tool to work out how much CO2 you generated on that flight and you donate a sum based on that output to an environmental charity. These charities work internationally to support initiatives that reduce atmospheric carbon, at the same time bringing social, economic and educational benefits to developing communities. 

Carbon offsetting is a scheme that’s not without controversy, so let’s address that first. Some argue that the idea of paying to offset our carbon footprint is an indulgence of the developed world: we give money to charity to clear our consciences and then we carry on creating emissions regardless. For some people, that might be the case. At the STC, we take our relationship with the environment seriously. Minimising our emissions is a lifestyle choice. As a business (and as individuals, come to that), we try to be as green as possible. Keeping the thermostat turned down, getting on our bikes and minimising waste are ways we can all contribute to reduced carbon footprints. The organisations we support with our offset contributions really make a difference to the communities they work with and to the global environment as a whole.  

We include the cost of carbon offsetting all international flights in our quotes to you and we also pay to carbon offset all international staff flights. The proceeds go to Friends of Conservation. They run initiatives from Thailand to Botswana and India to the Caribbean that focus on things like helping preserve habitats for endangered wildlife and educating local populations about the value to sustaining that wildlife. They also invest in low carbon cooking schemes such as solar cookers. That means Indian tiger habitats are protected, as locals don't have to cut cooking fuel from the forest.  

And the really exciting news? We can take you there. To learn about tracking tigers, camera traps, conservation and the whole human-animal conflict in the glorious technicolour of India. Check out our Tiger Tracks and Camera Traps trip for more information.

By supporting Friends of Conservation our consciences rest a little easier, yes, but we also see real-life benefits brought to some of the world’s most economically challenged communities. We hope you agree that can’t be bad. It’s just one of many ways we implement our responsible tourism policy.  

Learn more about Friends of Conservation here.