Sounding Good Vs Doing Good
November 29, 2021
Find out how to avoid greenwashing and add integrity to your sustainable sports travel strategy.
Avoid information overload and develop a sustainable strategy that works…
There has been a flood of information regarding environmental sustainability and travel over the last few months as organisations race to publicise their new sustainability efforts. However, not everything is as green as it seems and teams who are looking to limit their impact on the environment can soon become victims of greenwashing.
What is greenwashing?
The term ‘greenwashing’ is used to describe the process of making unsubstantiated claims regarding how environmentally sound an organisation’s products or operations are. These claims often create a false impression or provide misleading information, causing customers to see an organisation’s products as more environmentally friendly than they actually are or that the organisation’s actions are working towards a CO2 net zero or carbon neutral goal.
“Tree planting initiatives are often popular with consumers looking to contribute to environmentally friendly projects, as tree planting provides a very visual representation of taking action to repair damage to the planet.”
Despite setting off with the best of intentions, those responsible for steering their team’s sustainability programme can soon feel overwhelmed and confused due to the amount of misinformation surrounding environmentally friendly initiatives.
Here we take a look at three of the most popular initiatives being added into sustainability strategies right now and highlight key considerations that teams should take when deciding which is right for them:
Tree planting initiatives are often popular with consumers looking to contribute to environmentally friendly projects, as tree planting provides a very visual representation of taking action to repair damage to the planet.
Reforestation (the process of planting trees in a forest where the number of trees has been decreasing) and afforestation (the creation of a new forest) projects are associated with the reduction of air pollution, the absorption of carbon dioxide and the provision of habitats for wildlife – all of which contribute to environmental sustainability strategies. However, the impact of tree planting initiatives remains at a relatively small scale when compared with wider conservation projects.
Teams looking to contribute towards tree planting initiatives should keep in mind that many of these projects are uncertified and unregulated, meaning that they are not held to account by appropriate governing bodies and cannot provide consumers with verified proof of their contribution.
“SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) has been estimated to generate 80% less carbon emissions than conventional fuel sources, which has created the perception that it will have a huge impact on the environment.”
There is also often little information available on the wider context of these projects; for example, what effects have these projects had on local communities? How long do these trees live for? Are the trees being planted in the right place? Although tree planting can be a positive step, it’s important that teams give due consideration to how effective the initiative is when compared with others.
Sustainable aviation fuel
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is a type of fuel produced from sustainable feedstocks and is similar in its chemistry to traditional fossil jet fuel. Some typical feedstocks used are cooking oil; solid waste from homes and businesses, such as packaging, paper, textiles, and food scraps; forestry waste, such as waste wood, and energy crops, including fast growing plants and algae.
SAFs are seen as a way to reduce carbon emissions as many of the feedstocks used to create them absorb CO2 while growing.
As the latest buzzword(s) within the travel industry, SAF is understandably attracting the attention of many teams who are looking to limit the impact of their travel on the environment. SAF has been estimated to generate 80% less carbon emissions than conventional fuel sources, which has created the perception that it will have a huge impact on the environment. However, there are still a few key obstacles to overcome before SAF can be part of meaningful change.
It’s important for teams considering contributing to SAF programmes to bear in mind that the creation and adoption of SAF is a change that airlines will need to embrace anyway, regardless of customer contributions. The use of SAF only accounts for 1% of all commercial flights currently, meaning that it’s impact is still relatively small and although SAF is more environmentally friendly than traditional fuels, its use does still create emissions that ultimately need to be offset.
Carbon offsetting programmes are designed to counterbalance the effects of unavoidable travel by buying carbon credits. A carbon credit is produced when one tonne of CO2 is avoided or removed from the atmosphere. These credits are verified and audited by independent international standards.
Giving a clear statement of intent, carbon offsetting is a practical and proactive way of limiting our effects on the environment when compared with more abstract policy setting. Funding global projects through carbon offsetting is a direct way of aiding in the expansion of emissions reductions projects, primarily in the developing world. The main credit ‘type’ are nature based solutions including the restoration and conservation of forests, wetlands and grasslands. In addition to the climate benefit, these projects have strong associated co benefits for biodiversity and local livelihoods. Some renewable energy or energy efficiency projects are also examples of different types of carbon credit generating projects.
“Carbon offsetting is still seen by many teams as being a complicated process.”
However, carbon offsetting is still seen by many teams as being a complicated process. Not only do those responsible for a team’s sustainability programme have to engage key stakeholders in committing to reducing carbon emissions, they must then source the carbon credits through a third party. Finding the right carbon offsetting project is hard and requires specialist due diligence to ensure that the project is performing as it states. All projects should be verified and certified by credible third party standards and checks should be made to ensure that the emissions reductions are real, permanent and additional and that monies raised from the sale of credit reach those communities on the ground.
Finding the right solution for your team
It’s important to talk to your travel provider when you begin to develop your team’s wider sustainability strategy, as they will be able to look at how your team travels and recommend strategies that are most relevant.
ATPI developed ATPI Halo in order to help guide customers and offer the most value when it comes to strategic carbon offsetting. By sourcing a selection of projects from leading providers , all of which are accredited to the highest standard and meet many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, ATPI Halo simplifies the process of carbon offsetting and offers expert consultancy alongside, ensuring that teams can develop an approach to carbon offsetting that fits with their wider business goals. ATPI has partnered with specialists in carbon offsetting, such as Respira, to ensure that we deliver only the highest quality carbon credits to our customers.
If you’d like to find out more information about carbon offsetting and sustainable travel consultancy then please VISIT ATPI HALO.