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Press Release

Contact: pr@ricksteves.com
For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rick Steves’ Europe Pays “Self-Imposed Carbon Tax” of $500,000

America's leading European travel company distributes grants to nonprofits fighting climate change

EDMONDS, WA — Thursday, January 14, 2021 — Despite a lean year of grounded flights and scuttled travel dreams, travel company Rick Steves' Europe renewed its Climate Smart Commitment today, paying a "self-imposed carbon tax" of $500,000. The company will distribute the funds to 10 nonprofit organizations, carefully selected for their work in fighting climate change on-the-ground in the developing world and through government advocacy in the US.

CEO Rick Steves, a well-known travel writer and public television host, says the Climate Smart Commitment reflects the company's core value of demonstrating good global citizenship — and he hopes other travel businesses will steal the idea.

"30,000 people took a Rick Steves tour in 2019," says Steves. "And to help mitigate the environmental cost of all those flights, we set aside $30 of our profit for each traveler." The result was a self-imposed carbon tax totaling $1,000,000, which the company invested in a portfolio of nonprofit organizations that fight climate change.

"We didn't take anyone to Europe in 2020," Steves says. "But we were so excited about the progress we made on our Climate Smart Commitment in 2019, this year we decided to pay half of what we would have if it'd been business as usual."

While there are many fine organizations doing effective work to fight climate change, this year's grant recipients were chosen for their proven effectiveness in: 1) helping farming communities in the developing world employ climate-smart agriculture and forestry techniques to mitigate their contribution to climate change and 2) advocating in Congress for US government policies to fight climate change.

This year's grant recipients include Project Concern International, Agros International, Bread for the World, and the ZEITZ Foundation. A full list of recipients and information about their efforts to fight climate change is available in the 2020-21 Climate Smart Commitment Portfolio.

"This isn't heroics," Steve says. "It's simply the right thing to do, and the ethical way to run a business — especially a travel business."

About Rick Steves

Rick Steves is a popular public television host, a best-selling guidebook author, and an outspoken activist who encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel. He is the founder and owner of Rick Steves' Europe, a travel business with a tour program that typically brings more than 30,000 people to Europe annually. Rick lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

Learn more about the Climate Smart Commitment grant program and application process.

Program Descriptions

Rick Steves' Europe's Climate Smart Commitment (40 words)

Travel is a major contributor to climate change. To help mitigate our impact on the environment, each year Rick Steves' Europe is investing in a portfolio of climate-smart nonprofits and advocacy groups. Learn more at www.ricksteves.com/climate.

Rick Steves' Europe's Climate Smart Commitment (80 words)

Travel is a major contributor to climate change. Carbon emissions from transatlantic flights, in particular, are a major threat to the environment. As a company that promotes (and profits from) travel, Rick Steves' Europe will self-impose a carbon tax by making an annual investment in nonprofit organizations that support conservation and climate-smart agriculture in underdeveloped countries — with an emphasis on projects that empower women and strengthen communities — as well as organizations that advocate for climate-smart legislative policies. Learn more at www.ricksteves.com/climate.

Rick Steves' Europe's Climate Smart Commitment (140 words)

Travel is a major contributor to climate change. Carbon emissions from transatlantic flights, in particular, are a major threat to our environment. As a company that promotes (and profits from) travel, Rick Steves' Europe feels that it's ethical to account for our travelers' impact on the environment. Many travel companies purchase "carbon offset credits," which are managed by brokers and fund clean energy projects in wealthier countries. Instead, we're annually investing  in a portfolio of nonprofit organizations in order to directly fund climate-smart agriculture, conservation, and agroforestry in underdeveloped countries — with an emphasis on projects that empower women and strengthen communities. We're also supporting organizations that encourage our federal government to adopt climate-smart policies. This way, the next generation can enjoy the same happy travels we've had. Learn more about our initiative and the thinking behind it at www.ricksteves.com/climate.

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YouTube Video

Link: https://youtu.be/1S4IIEV_CZE

Title: Rick Steves' Climate Smart Commitment

Description: Travelers face a dilemma: While international travel is one of the best ways to become a better global citizen, every flight emits damaging carbon into the atmosphere. Fortunately, it's possible to mitigate this environmental toll. Each year, Rick Steves' Europe invests in a portfolio of nonprofits that are making a big difference. 

While there are many ways to do this, we believe the best approach is to pursue long-term solutions: climate-smart projects in the developing world, combined with advocacy to shape legislation in the US. Visit www.ricksteves.com/climate.

Script: Hi, I'm Rick Steves in Ethiopia, witnessing how climate change is impacting people in villages like this. It's clear: climate change is a reality and it's hitting the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest. It's also clear that when we travel abroad, we contribute to climate change. That's why at Rick Steves' Europe we're funding organizations that run climate-smart projects in the developing world. We call it our Climate Smart Commitment. Each year, we're investing enough to mitigate the carbon created by the thousands of travelers who fly to join our Rick Steves tours. This is a small but important first step and we're proud to challenge other travelers and tour companies to join us. It's time we all take climate change more personally and pay back the environmental cost of our travels. Happy travels…no, happy carbon-neutral travels.