Climate Smart Commitment: 2022 Portfolio Annual Report
$500,000 Invested in 11 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 into non-profit organizations that fight climate change in two ways: by helping farmers in the developing world employ climate-smart agriculture technology, and by advocating in the halls of government to take the threat of climate change more seriously.
After three years of running our program, we continue to believe 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 in their desperation to grow enough food and earn enough income to support their families, their farming practices contribute substantially to climate change — and their resources are scarce. Without the US taking a global leadership role, the combined actions of all the world’s non-profit organizations isn't enough. That’s why we believe the US must implement smart policies that acknowledge the link between climate change and hunger (both at home and abroad) while supporting 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 and 2021 because of the COVID pandemic — and shrinking our travel-related carbon footprint to near-zero — we couldn’t bear to stop supporting the great work of our partner organizations. In 2021 we committed $500,000 to fund our Climate Smart portfolio, and in 2022 we committed another $500,000.
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. With our support, these organizations have taken three villages out of extreme poverty, reforested multiple football fields of degraded land, prevented tons of carbon from being emitted, saved thousands of trees from becoming firewood, brought back biodiversity, improved living conditions, and helped enact major climate legislation. It feels good. It’s ethical as a business practice. And it's simply good global citizenship.
This annual report shares what nine of our partner organizations accomplished in 2022. 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 their work.
Happy climate-smart travels,
Rick Steves and Craig Davidson
Learn more about our Climate Smart Commitment.