Intrepid Travel becomes the first tour operator in the world with verified science-based targets


Logo for companies who have had their science-based targets approved

Intrepid Travel has become the first tour operator in the world with verified science-based targets. The global tour operator’s ambitious 2035 emissions reduction targets, in line with a 1.5°C future, have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The initiative is a collaboration between four organizations, including the United Nations Global Compact, who together promote best practices around corporate climate action and independently assess and approve companies’ targets.

Intrepid will be taking a series of actions to further transform its business for a low-carbon future. It will seek to reduce emissions across its operations and trips, replacing transport options on many of the company’s itineraries to lower carbon alternatives such as high speed rail.

Beyond its existing tours, Intrepid will be expanding its newly launched range of closer to home trips to over 100 itineraries in 2021, to provide options with shorter or no flights required. Internally, Intrepid will also be reducing international business travel, procuring renewable electricity and transitioning to 100% renewable energy in its global offices by 2025.

The 1.5°C degree target is in line with the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, in which world leaders outlined a clear global response to the threat of climate change. To reach its 2035 target, Intrepid Travel has committed to reduce absolute scope 1 (direct emissions) and scope 2 (emissions from heat and electricity) greenhouse gas emissions 71% by 2035 from a 2018 base year. Intrepid Travel also committed to reduce scope 3 (value chain emissions) greenhouse gas emissions from its offices by 34% per full-time employee and from its trips by 56% per passenger day over the same period.

The approved science-based targets mark the most significant step Intrepid has taken in the fight against climate change since becoming a carbon neutral business in 2010. Over the past 10 years, Intrepid has offset more than 350,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions worldwide. In January 2020, Intrepid declared a climate emergency with Tourism Declares, a global collective of tourism businesses, organisations and individuals who have pledged urgent action on climate change. As part of the declaration, Intrepid outlined its seven-point climate commitment plan, which included the commitment to setting science-based targets aligned with a 1.5°C future.

Before Covid-19, the tourism industry accounted for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions. While Intrepid is now recognised as the first and only tour operator with science-based targets, the company knows that the climate crisis cannot be handled in isolation. There are currently only 14 hospitality and tourism companies in the world with approved targets, including Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group, with an additional 14 companies within the sector of hospitality who are committed to setting science-based targets, including Legacy Vacation Resorts and MGM Resorts International.

“Intrepid’s verified science-based targets mark the most significant step we’ve taken on our climate journey in the past 15 years,” says James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel. “Setting science-based targets is widely considered the most effective way for companies to take significant climate action, and we’re proud to be building our business towards a 1.5°C future. Our hope is that we can use this as a rallying cry to the entire industry that climate action needs to be a critical priority in travel’s post-COVID recovery. We simply can’t rebuild at the expense of the planet,” he adds.

The results and progress of Intrepid’s science-based targets will be led by Intrepid’s Environmental Impact Specialist, Dr. Susanne Etti, and reported annually through the company’s Integrated Report. 

For more information, visit Science Based Targets and Intrepid’s carbon management page.

Intrepid is also encouraging other travel companies wanting to learn more about setting science-based targets to reach out directly to Dr. Etti and the responsible business team at  [email protected].



About the SBTi

The Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) is a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. The SBTi defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets. Science-based targets provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

About Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel is a global adventure travel company that has been taking travelers off the beaten track to discover the world’s most amazing places for 30 years. The company offers more than 800 trips around the world on every continent. Every trip is designed to truly experience local culture – to meet local people, try local food, take local transport and stay in local accommodation. With an average group size of just 10 people, travelers can eat, sleep and get around the local way, going where the bigger groups can’t. Globally renowned as a leader in responsible travel, in 2018 the carbon-neutral business became the world’s largest travel company to be certified B-Corp, joining a growing community of businesses looking beyond the bottom line.

Travindy is an independent website featuring news and opinion on all issues to do with tourism and sustainability. Written primarily for an industry audience, our aim is to support the transformation of the sector into one that is regenerative, restorative and fully inclusive.

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