Most of us are aware of the climate emergency unfolding, but for many it remains something that can be solved by energy efficient light-bulbs and a bit less meat. We have known about the alarming effect of greenhouse gases since the 1950s but sadly we’re still not on track to keep the temperature rise well below the 2 degrees that the Paris Climate Agreement calls for. In fact, our global carbon emissions continue to grow and climate change is outpacing our predictions.
For those of us who aren’t sure about why 2 degrees warming would be catastrophic, the following infographic from CarbonBrief is a good summary:
There are many, many disastrous effects of this level of warming. To sum it up, the number of human deaths caused by 2o warming will probably be between 3 and 30 million people every year by 2010.
But our impact on the world around us is in more than our emissions.
Humans have killed 60% of animal populations globally since 1970, with fish being especially hardest hit: nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, over exploited or depleted. An underestimate shows that 28,000 species are threatened with extinction. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the oceans by weight than fish with about 8,800,000 tons added each year. Every year we dump over 2 billion tons of waste, posing a threat to the health of over 60 million people. I could go on…
What we’re doing at Via Outdoors
Based on our own experiences and a growing body of research, we believe that our global lack of action is in large part because we’re so disconnected from nature; it’s hard to be make a sizeable effort to protect what’s often so invisible, unappreciated and separate from us.
That’s why Via Outdoors is a social enterprise that exists to both connect people to the great outdoors and protect the planet. We aim to make it easier, cheaper and greener for people to experience and be inspired by the magnificence of nature.
We also make sure that the environment is at the heart of everything we do. For example, our weekend trips from London to Snowdonia are not only easier and cheaper than the alternatives, but they are also greener:
I believe that we need to reduce our energy usage globally and that we can’t rely on technological solutions to save us entirely from environmental destruction. I spent a lot of time considering whether starting Via Outdoors would be hypocritical because we’d be using energy to take people to the mountains. However, I firmly believe that we have a net positive impact. First, we reduce the emissions of people already travelling to the Snowdonia. For others, we’re enabling them to be inspired to take action by nature - something that is desperately missing from our city lives. Finally, we raise money for environmental charities in a sustainably and socially-positive way.
Our Environmental Pledge
At Via Outdoors, we pledge to continue to protect the planet by:
Continuing to do all we can to reduce our energy use
Using accredited nature-based solutions schemes to offset our remaining emissions so that we remain carbon neutral in scope 1, 2 and 3
Remaining zero to landfill by reducing avoidable waste, maximising recycling and extracting energy from remaining waste
Donating at least half of our profits to high impact environmental charities that use nature-based solutions to repair and sustain the planet
Continuing to use our platform to educate and inspire people into conservation action
Working with accommodation and guiding partners who are also working to become more sustainable and who reflect our values
Please hold us to account. If you feel we could be doing more, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
What could you do?
The mountains that we love are under threat, but there is still hope if we all act now.
We all need to minimise and offset our emissions, stop avoidable waste and act to improve biodiversity as we’ve already seen, but we also need to reduce our energy usage in the first place.
Relying on fossil fuels is clearly unsustainable – they are destroying the planet and will run out. Given that global energy usage continues to rise, we don’t have many other great options. Uranium for nuclear would run out within the next century if we moved entirely to fission now, although it may play a key transition role. Wind and solar are the best, scalable, long-term option but rely on a wealth of rare elements that will run very low if move entirely to those sources, and the same is true for the batteries we’d need to store that energy – especially as at the moment we’re not close to 100% recycling rates. They also take up a huge amount of land, which could often be better used for food production and nature-based carbon capture and biodiversity solutions. The immediate sustainable option would be roof-based solar panels. In the UK, my rough calculations show that this is possible and would leave enough land for us to grow all our own food locally, organically and an in a restorative way. However, to achieve sustainable energy use from roof-top solar, we’d need to reduce our personal energy use by about 45% on average. That doesn’t include energy use from industry but does include charging electric bikes and cars. That would be a sizable shift for all us.
So today, I ask you: what are you doing to protect the planet and what more could you do? Why not take the climate pledge, reduce your energy use, move to zero avoidable waste or donate to environmental causes?
And please let us know. Tag us on Instagram and we’ll happily share your great work with the world!