WATCH: What you should know about your carbon footprint while travelling

2019-10-02 15:45 - Gabi Zietsman
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Human foot print symbol made of green trees on rec


Travelling the world is the dream - but there won't be much to see once climate change is done with it.

But luckily right now there's a fast-growing movement to start pressuring governments and big companies to start actively curbing their environmental damage, spearheaded by the youth.

READ: How SA airports (and some spekboom) are fighting long-haul 'flight shame'

It has found its way into almost every facet of our lives, including the way we travel. With the rise of the flight shaming movement that highlights the impact of aviation on the planet, travellers are being more conscious about the distances they will go for their holidays and finding ways to offset their carbon footprint.

Planes aren't the only modes of transport getting scrutinised in the tourism industry - cruise ships have also been thrown into the green spotlight after French port Cannes has started banning cruise ships that don't meet the European Union's cap of 0.1% of sulphur in their fuel, according to Reuters. 

While many might scoff at the idea of being trapped on a floating amusement park, the industry has boomed over the last two years. Bloomberg reports that passengers have increased from 17.8 million to 28.5 million last year, while Chinese passenger growth has increased by 40% every year since 2006. 

SEE: Nature reserve in Cradle of Humankind ends cub petting

This translates to millions of people a year with more than twice the carbon footprint than they would have had if they stayed on land, while also generating massive amounts of waste that tend to end up in our oceans.

But while only 58% of the world is optimistic that humanity will be able to tackle climate change according to a Global Optimism Outlook Survey by Expo 202 Dubai, changes are being made in the industry. Airplane manufacturers are making changes to new models to be more fuel-efficient like the A320neo, while cruise ships are being upgraded to be more environmentally sustainable, like the MSC Magnifica

Some airlines also offer carbon credits to passengers when booking their tickets.

And while less than half of the world has a bleak outlook on the world, two-thirds of South Africans in the same survey believe we'll pull through. Earlier this year, the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) and South African Tourism (SA Tourism) launched a world-first with its Spekboom Initiative, a carbon offsetting initiative, which includes carbon-sucking spekboom plants to combat 'flight shame'. 

Spekboom is a carbon sponge, which has been said to be more effective at removing CO2 than the rainforest. 

The next time you plan a long-distance trip, calculate your holiday carbon footprint, see how much you will be producing and plant some spekboom to help Mother Nature breathe a little easier once you're back.

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