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(2021 - Spring/Summer Issue)


Let’s cut carbon footprints every step of the way.

As custodians of planet Earth, most of us jumped into action long ago to reduce pollution of the land, the waterways, and the air we breathe.

Ironically, with the COVID-19 pandemic that has ground international travel to a screeching halt, Mother Earth has somehow taken notice. The return of dolphins in the legendary Venice Canal during the first wave, and the clean gusts of air from the painfully obvious empty skies—nearly void of those industrial big birds that once carried us on flights from Point A to Point B—have been some of the happy accidents on the environmental renewal front.

Prior to the pandemic, for decades scientists were speaking out about abnormal heat-retention in the airspace encircling Earth, an alarm first seen by melting ice caps at the North and South Poles. A number of forces for this phenomenon are at play, but discussions about global warming and climate change, for the most part, stem from the build-up of heat-trapping “greenhouse gases” now blamed for alarming weather extremes. The United Nations points to human excesses, specifically deforestation, over-cultivation, and round-the-clock emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide mainly from coal, crude oil and natural gas as the leading factors.

Solutions aim at a stark usage reduction of those fossil fuels, replaced by a larger percentage of renewable energy from sources like the sun, wind, rain, tidal power and geothermal heat—and also from a variety of biofuels derived from sugars and fats in living matter. Good plans, but in the face of weather-related destruction worldwide, we custodians are saying hurry up.

As importantly though, what can we do? When travelling reopens, many of us could consider selecting only the most eco-responsible tours, hotels, transportation and activities. So it’s worth asking: When travel resumes, which travel suppliers have been proactive on the atmosphere? and, How might we support them?

Keep in mind that in our current situation, some solutions in the global rush to implement new ideas and alternative energy sources might put pressure on other ecological aspects of the planet. Many first steps achieved today will likely be followed with improvements tomorrow.

Here’s a guideline for travellers on the progress around climate action to date:


Global aviation was one of the first industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be one of the last to fully recover. However, jet fuel can be much improved. Virgin Atlantic Airways was the first carrier to test biofuels in 2008, an insightful idea that’s finally gelling across the airline industry. It’s hoped that millions of flights will be powered by biofuel blends, Canadian carriers included. As well, Virgin Atlantic has developed a totally new resource for fuel involving the recycling of waste gases from steel production, which could cut aviation’s carbon emissions in half. Passengers are also stepping up. Links on air-ticket receipts often lead to carbon offset programs, a way to counter our portion of flight emissions. This measure entails cash support for planting trees, biofuel development, and more.

Noteworthy: The world’s first zero-emission, all-electric seaplane captured news headlines in British Columbia as a small Canadian airline, Harbour Air, rolled out the cutting-edge aircraft. The six-passenger de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver from Harbour Air is in partnership with technology firm magniX. Courageous innovation is happening.

For new highs, a Canadian company has invented the world’s first all-hemp plane fuelled by 100 per cent hemp oil. Canadian cannabis firm Hempearth is behind the spirited flights. The company reports the sustainable aircraft is designed from composite hemp fibres that are ten times stronger than steel. virginatlantic.com/us/en; harbourair.com; hempearth.ca


Fully-electric vehicles (EVs) are inspirational and are in demand. Motorists will find these clean energy cars require less maintenance than gas guzzlers as they deliver hundreds of kilometres on one charge. Most of this relentless trailblazing technology belongs squarely to Tesla Motors, which has researched and developed the vehicle of the future over a span of 18 years. In 2019 Tesla’s co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk, reported the production output resulted in the manufacturing of a robust 367,500 electric vehicles. Such demand (along with EVs by most manufacturers now) is destined this year to put 2 million cars on North American roads using no gasoline at all. Try one as a rental. Models with the best batteries now reach 600+ kilometres per full charge. Electricity stations are easy to map online; some tap clean energy, like solar power. As importantly, the battery-pack must be long-lasting to be green. Have you heard about Tesla’s next generation, lithium ion patent now in development? CEO Musk (a citizen of Canada, the USA and South Africa) envisions this patent to produce the world’s first, “1-million-mile battery.”

Noteworthy: Best Western Hotels & Resorts have installed charging stations at many properties across North America. tesla.com; bestwestern.com


If you opt for the train instead of driving or flying, you are indeed reducing congestion and road-traffic emissions. In Europe and other hubs, train travellers who choose high-speed rail journeys might not notice the reduction in carbon emissions but networks like Eurostar from London to Paris emit 90 per cent less greenhouse gas than short-haul flights over the English Channel.

Noteworthy: Germany, in tandem with French innovation, is running the world’s first long-distance, all-electric passenger train powered by zero-emission hydrogen. In Japan, 88 per cent less energy is used on board the Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed train line that bullets passengers daily between Tokyo and Osaka compared with domestic air service on the same route. alstom.com; jrailpass.com


Imagine how one motorcoach tour accommodates many couples and families who might otherwise be driving in separate vehicles. Coaches, for the most part, are powered mainly by diesel, a greenhouse gas. On the horizon: motorcoaches are prime for electrification or for a biofuel conversion once that commitment is made. Be sure to ask your favourite coach company about their vision for such plans.

Noteworthy: Experience the Maritimes on Canada’s first battery electric coach. With over 50 locations across the Atlantic provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, Coach Atlantic Maritime Bus wants its passengers to worry less and help the planet. The company reports carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 85 per cent for every passenger mile. Maritimebus.com; coachatlantic.ca 

Ask about other on-tour greening initiatives like those with Trafalgar, Contiki, Globus family of brands, Tauck, Abercrombie & Kent. trafalgar.com; contiki.com; globusfamily.com; tauck.com; abercrombiekent.com 


Give your vacation allegiance to the most eco-responsible establishments. On-property programs to reduce greenhouse gases might include water conservation, an organic vegetable garden, solar panel energy, composting, planting trees, installing electric car chargers, and investments in clean energy sources.

Noteworthy: Standouts include, among others, Fairmont, Marriott, Sandos Hotels & Resorts, Hard Rock Hotels. fairmont.com; marriott.com; sandos.com; hardrock.com

Europe’s first sustainable hotel, the Iveagh Garden Hotel in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, harnesses the underground Swan River as its energy reserve for cooling and heating without burning fossil fuels. Learn more about its Green Energy program. iveaghgardenhotel.ie/green-hotel.html#main-content

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