Press Releases

Rick Steves’ Europe Awards First Annual Million-Dollar Climate Smart Commitment Grants


By supporting 11 organizations with its "self-imposed carbon tax," the company will help mitigate the carbon emissions of the 30,000 people it took on Rick Steves tours in 2019 by directly supporting US advocacy and climate-smart initiatives in the developing world

EDMONDS, WA, October 2, 2019 — Rick Steves' Europe, one of America's leading European travel and guidebook companies, has selected 11 nonprofits to receive its first annual $1 million Climate Smart Commitment grants. The company's yearly investment will go directly to two kinds of organizations: groups advocating in Congress for US policies to fight climate change, and nonprofit organizations who are helping farming communities in the developing world mitigate their contribution to climate change by employing climate-smart agriculture and forestry techniques.

Rick Steves' Europe's Climate Smart Commitment reflects the company's core value of demonstrating good global citizenship. For 40 years, travel writer and public television host Rick Steves has been encouraging Americans to travel abroad. Throughout his travels, Steves has seen the harmful effects of climate change. He recognizes his organization's ethical responsibility to account for the toll that the 30,000-plus travelers who fly to Europe each year to take his company-led tours have on the environment.

"Mitigating the carbon emissions we cause is simply the right thing to do," says Steves. "The beneficiaries we've selected are working to help farmers in the developing world rise out of poverty while contributing less to climate change."

During a competitive application process, each organization demonstrated its ability to effectively combat climate change. They will each receive between $50,000 and $200,000 for their individual project.

The 2019 grant recipients include:

  • Bread for the World encourages lawmakers in the US Congress to support policies that address climate change in order to fight hunger and poverty.
  • Project Concern International works in developing countries to end hunger, empower communities, and promote climate-smart agriculture.
  • Agros International helps families in Latin America break the cycle of rural poverty through market-led agriculture, financial empowerment, and by helping landless farmers buy and get firm titles to their own land.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) World Hunger helps small family farmers adopt more sustainable practices, adapt to a changing climate, and increase local food security.
  • The Rainforest Alliance works with rural communities in some of the world's most vulnerable landscapes to conserve forests and farm in a sustainable way.
  • Zeitz Foundation develops and implements ecologically responsible projects in Kenya that combine conservation, community, culture, and commerce.
  • Growing Hope Globally addresses the root causes of hunger by providing empowerment and leadership opportunities to women, improving their access to land and clean water, and training them on improved farming, hygiene, and nutrition.
  • Sustainable Harvest International partners with smallholder farming families in Central America to improve their well-being through climate-smart, organic farming techniques.
  • Citizens' Climate Education helps organize and empower concerned American citizens to lobby effectively by educating policymakers and the public about the importance of addressing climate change smartly.
  • Rainforest Action Network preserves forests, protects the climate, and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.
  • Food 4 Farmers partners with coffee-farming families to address food insecurity in Latin America's rural communities by transforming small-scale coffee farms into diversified, environmentally sustainable agricultural hubs.

Visit the Rick Steves' Europe Climate Smart Commitment portfolio to learn about each organization's specific project and how you can support their work.

"We hope our new Climate Smart Commitment program inspires other travel companies to take responsibility for their environmental impact and find innovative ways to offset the carbon emissions the people who take their tours add to our environment," says Steves. "We're not passing along the cost to our tour members with higher prices. Instead, we're taxing ourselves. As a business, we think this is simply ethical."

Steves keeps the climate conversation going in Hunger and Hope: Lessons from Ethiopia and Guatemala. In this hour-long public television special (scheduled to be released January 2020), Steves travels to the developing world to learn from locals and experts about extreme poverty and how to address it, including climate-smart solutions. Visit ricksteves.com to learn more about his upcoming Hunger and Hope special and the Climate Smart Commitment.

About Rick Steves:

Rick Steves, a public television host and author of dozens of guidebooks, is America's most respected authority on European travel. Steves took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. As an 18-year-old, Steves began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started his business, Rick Steves' Europe, located in Edmonds, Washington. His mission is to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Steves is also active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger.

About Rick Steves' Europe:

Located in Edmonds, Washington, Rick Steves' Europe produces a best-selling guidebook series on European travel, America's most popular travel show on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, and free travel information available through ricksteves.com. Rick Steves' Europe also runs a successful tour program, organizing tours for more than 30,000 travelers to Europe annually. In a move to help mitigate the carbon emissions from travelers who fly to Europe for Rick Steves tours, the company announced an annual $1 million donation to climate-smart nonprofit organizations in 2019. To learn more about the grant program and application process, visit the company's Climate Smart Commitment page.

 


Travel Authority and Activist Rick Steves Launches Annual Million-Dollar Commitment to Climate Smart Travel


Website: www.ricksteves.com/climate

NEW YORK, NY, May 29, 2019 — As an author of over 50 guidebooks on European travel and host of a popular travel series on public television, Rick Steves has introduced Europe and its myriad fascinations to travelers across America. As a traveler, he has seen the effects of climate change around the world, and he is passionate about doing what he can to slow those changes down. Steves is deeply concerned about this issue, so he is taking direct and decisive action to repay the toll that travelers have on the environment — backed by a million-dollar annual investment.

Steves' tour company, Rick Steves' Europe, is proud to announce its Climate Smart Commitment: an innovative, forward-thinking, and pragmatic program to account for the carbon emitted by its tour members when they fly to and from Europe. Starting in spring 2019, Steves' company will donate $1 million annually to fund climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry, and conservation projects in underdeveloped countries. A portion of this money will also support advocacy organizations in the US whose work is crucial to sustaining climate-smart efforts around the world.

Typically, private businesses that adopt an environmentally friendly policy purchase "carbon offset credits." These credits are managed by brokers to help fund clean energy projects, such as solar and wind technologies, often based in North America and Europe. Rather than taking this conventional approach, Rick Steves' Europe has chosen to work with organizations that directly address the problem in developing countries — emphasizing projects that empower women to take leadership roles, protect their environment, and strengthen their communities.

Based on figures from scientists and development experts, it takes roughly $30 of careful investment in environmental initiatives in the developing world to mitigate the carbon emissions created by a single traveler flying to and from Europe. Each year, Rick Steves' Europe takes about 30,000 travelers on its tours. Doing the math and then rounding it up, Steves estimates that $1 million annually is what his company "owes" to the environment. Drawn from the tour company's profits — not passed along to the customer via higher prices — Steves' investment in the environment is strongly linked to the company's core value of demonstrating good global citizenship.

"We don't see this program as particularly heroic," says Steves. "It's simply ethical. We believe every business should bear the cost to the environment of their activities. That's just honest accounting. We hope this program will inspire everyone who buys or sells tours to practice the same environmental ethic. This way, long after we are gone, our children will be able to enjoy the same happy travels we have."

For 2019, Rick Steves' Europe has announced the first three recipients of the grant funding:

  • Project Concern International
    Works in developing countries to empower women and promote climate-smart agriculture.
  • Bread for the World
    Lobbies our government to adopt climate-smart policies.
  • ELCA World Hunger
    Works in developing countries to help small family farms be climate smart.

To sustain the long-term impact of this initiative, the company will revisit its portfolio every year to ensure that the most effective organizations are getting the support they need to make a difference. That means its 30,000 annual tour members can be proud to travel with a company committed to positive change.

RICK STEVES is the author of Travel as a Political Act (Avalon Travel, February 2018), as well as 50 guidebooks on European travel. He took his first trip to Europe at age 14, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer; at 18, he began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. For decades, he's spent four months a year exploring and researching in Europe. In addition to running his successful tour program, he hosts a popular travel series on public television, Rick Steves' Europe, and a weekly national public radio show, Travel with Rick Steves.

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, Rick Steves' Europe is investing $1 million each year in 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 investing $1 million per year in 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 $1 million in a portfolio of 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 $1 million in a portfolio of nonprofits that are making a big difference. That means that each traveler who flies to and from Europe to take a Rick Steves' Europe tour can enjoy the peace of mind that they are traveling carbon-neutral.

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.