The latest global climate assessment report published by the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2014 came out on February 28, 2022. It’s a very grim read in terms of the far-reaching and devastating effects of climate change being experienced today, everywhere.
How can the concerned global travel community take action on information shared in this report? Coordination and concerted effort is desperately called for at national and international levels, outside the realm of influence for most travelers. Yet there are things we can do, and especially when we band together as a community we can amplify our voice and the impact of our individual actions. Here are a few points that stood out as areas where travelers especially can help.
The report emphasized that emissions reductions must happen as quickly as possible and notes that cuts today are more valuable than cuts in five or 10 years. This is because there are irreversible consequences to warming more than 1.5 degrees - such as the extinction of 14% of land-based animal species, as just one example. So the idea of getting past 1.5 degrees and then making changes to reduce emissions and bring the temperature back down is not viable. As the IPCC puts it, “The magnitude and rate of climate change and associated risks depend strongly on near-term mitigation and adaptation actions, and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages escalate with every increment of global warming.”
Travel is not only exciting and mind-opening, it brings necessary economic support to people around the world, not to mention helps fund biodiversity conservation projects around the world. Our emissions can be greater when we travel than when we are home however because of the choices we make, such as whether and how we fly, where we choose to stay, and so on.
Tomorrow’s Air team compiled a suite of helpful tips from experts on how to fly, drive, eat, shop, and stay climate clever when we travel. Give these a look and try them out the next time you take a trip.
The report points out that the “enabling conditions” must be present for the world to quickly transform human systems and support ecosystems, itemizing what these conditions are:
Political commitment starts with an aware, informed and passionate constituency - and as travelers we can be one of the sparks to help this along. The lack of political commitment stems from the fact that voting populations aren’t connected enough with climate topics to convey their urgency to their leaders. Broadly speaking, travelers make up a global population of more than a billion people (1.5 billion in 2019) - even a small percentage of this global population activated for climate could help influence political decisions.
Whether you are helping fund carbon removal through Tomorrow’s Air or simply following on social and reading our communications, growing your knowledge and becoming a follower helps. As our audience of climate conscious travelers grows, so can our influence. Share what you know and invite others to join with you.
Another key element of this report was its emphasis on the value of “diverse forms of knowledge,” and its encouragement to include Indigenous and local knowledge alongside science in plans for reducing our risks from climate change and sorting out how to take coordinated action. This was noted as far back as the 2007 IPCC report, which observed that Indigenous knowledge is “an invaluable basis for developing adaptation and natural resource management strategies in response to environmental and other forms of change”. One of the reasons Indigenous knowledge is not more represented is because traditional knowledge appears in literature that is outside of peer-reviewed academic forums, or exists in oral form, thereby falling outside the scope of IPCC process. (Why Traditional Knowledge Holds the Key To Climate Change).
Travelers have an interesting angle on this one: we can seek out and learn climate insights from local people when we travel, and we can share those insights with our friends and families. When was the last time you asked a local person a climate-related question on a trip? Absorbing the information is valuable, and then sharing about it live and online, can help build awareness and appreciation for Indigenous knowledge.
The IPCC has said that humanity has a 50 percent chance of staying below the 1.5°C threshold called for by the Paris Agreement if carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 onwards remain below 500 billion tons. At our current rate of emissions, that carbon budget would be used up by about 2034. If the rate doesn’t come down, the planet will warm more than 1.5°C. (Bloomberg)
We know we need to transform, and we know need to clean up. Take action yourself when you keep learning with Tomorrow’s Air, encourage your friends to follow, and consider joining with a monthly membership or as company partner. We’re building a collective of travelers and businesses who’re all chipping in to help speed up carbon removal to restore our climate.