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    Carbon Footprint

    We are very aware that every trip we do has a carbon footprint which adds to the climate crisis. The necessity for action is both clear and urgent. We all need to act immediately to reduce our carbon footprint.

    Our Progress So Far

    Since starting our business 20 years ago, we have always been committed to sustainable business. From the design of our products to deciding who we work with, where we travel to and where we work from. In any event, talk can be cheap, so let’s show you the numbers:

    2020/2021 figures impacted by the temporary cease of operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    How Our Numbers Compare

    These numbers are based on average capacity and standard itineraries


    Knowing Our Impact


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    Our local and often human-powered adventures have, by their very nature, a low carbon footprint. However, this is no excuse to sit on the sidelines and think we’re doing our bit. We recognise we need to reduce our emissions further. To allow us to do this, we have measured the carbon footprint of our entire business with the aim of improving it year on year. This measurement is critical to not only monitoring progress but identifying ways in which we can continue reducing our impacts.


    Our Reduction Targets


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    We are one of just a handful of companies in the world (and there really needs to be more) to have set ourselves science-based emission reduction targets. While most governments, businesses and other organisations have set themselves the goal of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, we want to go further.

    Our target is to reduce our CO2 emissions by 90% per traveller over the period 2020-2030. This equates to a 9% year on year reduction, each year for the next decade and includes those emissions arising from our offices, our vehicle fleet, staff travel, website hosting and every element of the trips that we provide – accommodation, meals, transport, activities and guides. We recognise that achieving such significant reductions isn’t going to be easy and we will have to work hard and creatively to make this happen. We have already made some good progress, investing in a Net Zero business HQ on a brownfield site in the Cairngorms National Park. This building which is ultra energy efficient and powered by on and off site renewable energy has saved 14,616kg of carbon per annum.

    Future challenges in reaching our target will include looking at how we can reduce road travel in our itineraries, how quickly we can introduce electric vehicles into our fleet and deciding which hotels we choose to work with.

    For those residual emissions which we cannot eliminate, we also commit to removing the equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030. This will be done via investment in reforestation and afforestation projects in Scotland, with particular support channelled to our long-time conservation partners, Trees for Life. This strategy of 90% reduction and carbon removal will support our objective of achieving “True” Net Zero status by 2030.


    Accountability


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    Given the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis, we believe every business should be held accountable for the actions they are taking to limit global warming to 1.5C over the next decade.

    To provide the right level of expertise and independence, we partnered with the ecollective to help us measure and improve our carbon footprint. Calculating your own carbon footprint can be a little complex as almost everything in our day to day lives has some sort of footprint. Our calculation system is not perfect, but it is highly accurate and our aim is to make the measurements better each year. It allows us to see what we can improve by calculating every element of the business, showing us where to focus our attention.

    With the ecollective’s help we followed the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) and applied emission factors provided by DEFRA and other data sources. We also conducted a detailed survey of over 300 accommodation partners to individually calculate the carbon footprint of those hotels, lodges and other providers we work with.

    To provide further validation, we submitted our approach and carbon reduction plans to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The SBTi was established to drive ambitious climate action by enabling companies to set science-based emissions reduction targets. To support this ambition, the SBTi has developed the world’s first framework for businesses setting net zero targets in line with climate science. Known as “The Net Zero Standard”, The Wilderness Group of companies became the first Tour Operator in Europe to commit to this standard and have our carbon emission reduction targets validated by the SBTi.

    Our Journey to Net Zero

    In accordance with the Net Zero Standard, our strategy towards Net Zero is based on the following:

    1. Emission Reductions Read More

    As quickly and as deep as we can, we will reduce carbon emissions across our business’ operations. Based upon the analysis we have conducted, the priority will be on reductions from trips which account for nearly 80% of all emissions. There are some big changes we envisage making in the near future e.g. switching all of our vehicles to electric (which will lead to a 19% reduction), while others will take longer and require strong partnerships with hotels, restaurants and other trip partners.

    2. Set Clear and Reported Targets Read More

    Our ambition is to reduce emissions by 90% from 2020-2030. This equates to a 9% year on year reduction and feels like a very challenging target. However, we are committed to making this happen and have already made good progress in some key areas. To ensure transparency and accountability we will report and publish our progress each year on our websites.

    3. No Hype or Greenwash Read More

    We will make no claims to Net Zero, Carbon Neutral, Climate Positive or similar until such time as our long-term science based target is met.

    4. Carbon Offsetting Read More

    While our strict focus is on reducing emissions, we must recognise that our business will still have a carbon footprint (even with a 90% reduction) and it is our responsibility to act on it.

    By the end of 2022, we will be offsetting all of those emissions we are unable to reduce through the United Nations Carbon Offset Platform by investing in projects which remove, avoid or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. In combination, we will deepen our relationship with the conservation charity, Trees for Life, by investing in carbon removal at their Highland estate at Dundreggan.

    5. Collaboration Read More

    To foster greater accountability, remain open to criticism and to support the movement to a net zero economy, we commit to an “open book” approach within the travel industry and beyond. We have already shared our methodology with many and are very happy to lend support to others where we can. Just email us or ecollective to find out more.

    Sustainability

    Learn more about Wilderness Scotland’s commitment to sustainable tourism.

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