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“We are measuring to learn and to give us the ability to adapt based on those insights.”

– Neil Brinckerhoff,  Program Director

At CAS Trips, our journey towards sustainability has been an eye-opening, challenging, and proactive one. We have always sought to provide trips inspired by a love and respect for our wondrous and irreplaceable planet. Since signing the Glasgow Declaration in 2021 — we have also been steadfast in our mission to measure, decarbonize, regenerate, collaborate, and finance initiatives to cut our emissions by half over the next decade and reach Net Zero before 2050.

Embracing Transparency: Admitting Our Failures and Confronting the Challenge of Growth

Furthermore, we believe in the power of transparency and the importance of admitting where we have fallen short. As a growing company, reducing emissions has been a difficult task. Despite our best efforts, some aspects of our environmental impact have increased, reflecting the complexities of balancing growth with sustainability.

In 2023, for example, our total emissions increased exponentially from the year prior for several reasons. Our staff numbers grew by 57% from 7 to 11 employees, and our participant numbers surged by 26.5%. While indicative of our success and expansion, these increases inevitably led to higher emissions.

Our ideal goal is to achieve Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050. However, the reality of scaling a business means that some emissions are unavoidable. This growth has taught us valuable lessons and highlighted areas where we can improve our sustainability efforts.

Further Insight into How We Track Our Emissions

We began measuring our carbon emissions in 2021, starting with Scope 1 and 2 emissions tied to our Prague office. Over time, we’ve expanded our methodology to include staff travel and homeworking emissions, using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) and DEFRA 2023 Conversion Factors. This has provided critical insights, allowed us to refine our strategies, and better understand the impact of our business decisions.

From 2022 to 2023, our total office emissions increased from 2083.5 kg CO2e to 3172 kg CO2e due to company growth, including a larger team, more office space, and our first in-person summit since 2019.

Overall travel emissions rose by 909% due to increased staff and more travel for events.

Emissions Breakdown

Growth and Sustainability

Managing Emissions Amidst Growth: Choosing Greener Travel Options and More 

Despite the rise in overall emissions, we have managed to make progress in certain areas. For instance, our advocacy for land transportation has increased rail and bus travel amongst our clients, which have lower carbon footprints than air travel. 

In 2023, 18% of CAS Trips groups chose buses or trains over flights, covering an average distance of 483 km. This choice resulted in significantly lower travel emissions, with an average of 47.7 kg CO2 per traveler compared to the 961.57 kg CO2 for those who flew.

The number of sustainably certified accomodation CAS Trips participants stayed in rose to 13% compared to 7.5% in 2022.

Further details regarding the impact of our programming and integration of the UN SDGS can be found in our Sustainability Report… 

Offsetting Our Impact

2023 saw an increase in our total emissions due to company growth, this highlights the necessity of continuing to implement effective strategies to mitigate our environmental impact. Our data-driven approach allows us to understand the implications of our business decisions and adapt our sustainability initiatives accordingly.

Last year, we offset a total of 54.4 tonnes of CO2 through a variety of certified projects, which accounted for our 45.5 tonnes of calculated CO2 emissions plus an additional 20% buffer to cover any potential missing emissions. Our offsetting efforts included:

  • Zambia Safe Water Project: This project provided clean and accessible water to rural communities in Zambia and promoted hygiene education to improve health outcomes.
  • Uganda Water Filtration Systems: This initiative distributed efficient and affordable water filtration devices to communities across Uganda, ensuring access to safe drinking water.
  • Maucaúbas Landfill Gas Capture: This project in Brazil captured methane emissions from landfills and converted them into renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainable energy production.

Investing in Carbon Curing and Long-Term Removal

A noteworthy aspect of our offsetting strategy is our investment in Carbon Curing projects, which focus on permanent carbon removal. In 2023, 1.5% of our offsetting budget, equivalent to 800 kg of CO2, was allocated to these projects. 

This is relevant to us as we’ve made a significant shift in our approach to carbon management in 2023 by introducing a standard $20 carbon removal contribution per participant on all itineraries in partnership with Tomorrow’s Air. This initiative supported the permanent storage and removal of 35.27 tonnes of CO2 in 2023. By focusing on carbon removal, we are investing in developing a sustainable future and taking concrete steps towards our goal of achieving Net Zero emissions.

Empowering Our Team in Project Selection and Localizing Carbon Offsetting Efforts

We have also made progress by involving our internal team in the selection of offsetting projects. This democratic process ensures our offsetting efforts align with the values and priorities of our team.

Further efforts are being made to localize our offsetting efforts by supporting projects that have a direct impact on the communities we operate in or visit. This is a goal for future annual offsetting and the localization contributes to our goal of sustainable development and environmental stewardship at a community level.

The Path Forward: Tracking and Managing Emissions

To continue our journey towards sustainability, we have outlined the following key areas of focus:

Enhanced Emissions Tracking: We are committed to improving our methodology for tracking trip emissions, incorporating more detailed data to provide a clearer picture of our environmental impact.

Education and Transparency: By creating a detailed FAQ on our carbon emission calculations, we aim to foster a deeper understanding among our participants and stakeholders about our sustainability efforts and the importance of reducing emissions.

Continuous Improvement: Our goal is to continuously refine our strategies, using the data and insights gained to implement more effective sustainability measures. This includes exploring new technologies and practices that can help us achieve our Net Zero target.

Staff Empowerment: We provide our staff the data, training, and ability to make decisions that best impact the experience and sustainability of CAS Trips programs. 

We acknowledge the increase in our annual emissions reporting and remain committed to our sustainability goals. Our journey is one of learning and adapting, and we believe that transparency and honesty about our challenges are crucial to our progress.

By joining forces with other leaders in the responsible travel industry, we are better equipped to tackle the complexities of growth and environmental stewardship, paving the way for a sustainable future that sees more young people enjoying the benefits of sustainable travel.

Read our full 2023 Sustainability Report.