$500,000 Invested in 10 Organizations
In late 2019, Rick Steves' Europe launched our Climate Smart Commitment — a program designed to pay back the environmental debt created by our travelers flying to Europe to join our bus tours. Our goal: to creatively mitigate our carbon footprint by smartly investing a self-imposed carbon tax of $30 per tour member per year. We use these funds to support organizations that fight climate change in two ways: by helping farmers in the poor world employ climate-smart agriculture technology, and by advocating in the halls of government to take the threat of climate change more seriously.
We believe that lasting change requires both hands-on work and advocacy. Climate change hits the poorest people in the poorest countries the hardest. Roughly half of the world’s population is made up of smallholder farmers and their families, and in their desperation to grow enough food, their farming practices also contribute substantially to climate change. Without the US taking a global leadership role, the combined actions of all the world’s nonprofit organizations won’t be enough. That’s why we believe that the US must implement smart policies that acknowledge the link between climate change and hunger (both at home and abroad), and that support the transition to a climate-smart economy.
We're presenting this report to show our travelers (and those who might travel with us in the future) what we accomplished in the past year. Despite canceling all our tours in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic — and earning no revenue — in 2021 we committed $500,000 to our program so that organizations could continue to do great work even in difficult times. And for 2022, after a second year without tour customers, we’ve committed another $500,000. (Even though you could make the case that we shrunk our carbon footprint to near-zero in 2020 and 2021, we couldn’t bear to stop supporting our partner organizations after learning how effectively they invested our $1 million in 2019.)
While climate change and smart development often seem abstract, the organizations in this report are perfect examples of how positive and life-changing action is being realized in faraway places. We are proud to offer those who take our tours the peace-of-mind that our “self-imposed carbon tax” effectively mitigates the carbon they emit to join us in Europe. Together, we're making a difference. It feels good. It’s ethical as a business practice. And it's simply good global citizenship.
This annual report shares what eight of our partner organizations accomplished in 2021. Despite the global pandemic, these organizations persevered, delivered on their missions, and fulfilled their pledge to be transparent with us. They inspire all of us at Rick Steves’ Europe. We hope you enjoy reading about them.
Happy climate-smart travels,
Learn more about our Climate Smart Commitment.