How to Remove Travel Emissions When You Go Skiing

Capture CO2 created by travel emissions—and everything else—and turn it into stone. Seriously.

Iceland: an ideal location where Climeworks can turn CO2 emissions into stone.
Become a pioneer with Climeworks
Photo of Iceland by Norris Niman on Unsplash

Introducing Climeworks, a company offering revolutionary solutions to our CO2 pollution problems. They have created a machine that literally captures CO2 and takes it out of the air.

The company has built a genius contraption that’s already up and working and they are on a mission to build more. Now you can contribute by becoming a Climeworks Pioneer. As a travel company, we won’t ignore our responsibility we have towards reducing CO2 pollution and protecting the environment; travel emissions are a big part of it. That’s why we love this solution that is helping tackle the climate crisis and we’ve partnered with them to figure out what we can do to help. 

As a first step, until the end of September 2019, when someone supports Climeworks having discovered them through WeSki, we’ll make a contribution too. Read on to find out more, or head straight to their website to sign up now.

Are We in a Climate Crisis?

100% yes. To be clear: temperatures are rising, which means we will experience more extreme weather that kills more people both directly, in hurricanes, and indirectly, through droughts, for example.

Whether we like to think about it or not, and whatever your position on this climate emergency, the facts are there and they are screaming at us loud and clear. Glaciers are melting. We are experiencing more extreme seasons and weather patterns, like heavier snow storms in the Alps, hurricanes devastating America, and rising sea levels worldwide.

Snow droughts are predicted for North America and Canada in the next few decades, and this season. So, unless you want to switch permanently to skiing on astro-turf, the time to take action and protect our planet and our mountains is now.

Environments are changing in the mountains. It’s happening, and it’s undeniable.

Ed Leigh from the BBC

Watch Ed Leigh, BBC’s snowboarding correspondent, explain how he’s seen the snow change in the past 23 years.

Video by Protect Our Winters via Vimeo

What is My Carbon Footprint? 

Carbon footprints are our dirty breadcrumb trail that leads back to our lifestyle of unsustainable living. ‘The footprint is a metaphor for the total impact something has’, whilst carbon basically means anything that is ‘contributing to global warming’ according to the Guardian.

So, any time you hop in a car, pop the kettle on, bite into that sandwich, or swipe up to buy on Insta, you’re doing it. You’re impacting the world. And most of the time, you’re leaving a footprint behind. Like an ice-cream wrapper on the beach. Or that greasy McDonald’s bag that was left in your mate’s passenger footwell (we all know it’s yours, AJ). Anyway, you get it.

Travel emissions, from planes, for example, contribute to climate change.
Travel emissions, from planes, for example, contribute to climate change.
Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

Why Is My Ski Trip a Problem for the Environment?

The biggest problem with ski trips is the mode of transport. Most of your carbon footprint on your ski holiday comes from your flights getting there. That’s right. Good old travel emissions. To put things in perspective; a roundtrip flight from London Gatwick to Geneva, Switzerland produces 350kg of CO2. Yuck.

Take the train, or car share instead? Those modes of transport, including using the local bus, will also be producing carbon pollution.

So, yes, our ski trips create a lot of harmful pollution and we need to do something about it.

As an industry, tourism contributes 11% of the world’s CO2 emissions, which is 4.5 billion tons a year. As more people take to the skies, for cheap weekend trips, domestic flights, and long-haul holidays, emissions will increase too. The statistics are pretty bad; airline emissions will be 70% higher in 2020 compared to 2005.

Why Can’t We Just Leave it to Corporations to Fix the Climate Emergency?

Some industries like the fashion industry are slowing waking up to becoming more ‘carbon neutral’. Celebrities are leading some of the charge, like Leo Di Caprio’s collab with Will Smith. You can now buy Allbirds running shoes with 100% of proceeds going directly to protecting the Amazon rainforest. Other industries, like the travel industry have been more resistant to change, most probably because sustainable alternatives are not quite so simple; electric jumbo jets just aren’t a thing yet. At the moment, there are small scale projects producing renewable fuel, but they require time until they reach scales needed to have a chance of having a global impact. But that doesn’t mean we can—or should—ignore our role in this climate emergency.

Travalyst, an initiative lead by HRH The Duke of Sussex Prince Harry and backed by companies like SkyScanner and TripAdvisor demonstrates the travel sectors interest (both for the safety of the planet and their own businesses), in developing sustainable travel and tourism solutions.

Meanwhile, Google just last week released an update to their maps app that allows users to see the most eco-friendly route to take when planning their next journey. Take this eco-friendly route option into consideration and you can already start to consciously reduce your travel emissions. Also last week, Scotland promised a chunky £7.5 million for building more charging points for electric vehicles

So, some action is being taken by some governments and companies. But not everyone is a part of it and not enough is being done!

Man hiking the fields: each one of us has a responsibility to the planet.
Each one of us has a responsibility to the planet.
Photo by Sonja Guina on Unsplash

How Can Little Old Me Have an Impact on the Climate Emergency?

With environmental advocates doing amazing work for the planet, like legendary 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who literally just sailed across the ocean on an emission-free boat to attend a big ol’ meeting on climate change, sometimes our efforts as ordinary individuals can seem a bit…well…small in comparison.

Leonardo di Caprio’s charity Earth Alliance recently pledged $5 million to help fight the Amazon rainforest fires. Makes my £5 a month donation seem a bit naff, but hey, when you don’t earn billions, you can’t donate billions. Plus, it turns out that small amounts combined do make a difference. In 2014, $54million was raised worldwide from small coin collection boxes at McDonald’s checkouts for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Turns out your small change is pretty powerful, my friend.

Reducing the amount of disposable plastic we buy, becoming flexitarian with our meat-free Mondays, and choosing greener transport options all help reduce the amount of CO2 we habitually pump into the atmosphere every single day. However, at some point, the 7 billion people on the planet need to stand up and drop as much of their pennies as they can into the collection box. It’s just about choosing the right box. Hand on heart, we believe that Climeworks is the best option right now.

Should We Be Planting More Trees to Counteract Travel Emissions?

Yes, but this alone is not enough to capture and remove all our carbon emissions from the atmosphere. The bottom line is that we’re on a mission right now to keep global temperatures from increasing another 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. If the temperatures rise in the next 10 years, we’re royally screwed. Planting trees just isn’t going to give us a solution quick enough.

Saplings. Reforestation is one way to fight climate change.
Reforestation is one way to fight climate change.
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

Should We Stop Skiing to Save the Planet?

Again, not necessarily. Whilst it’s true that carbon emissions spewed out by the planes that fly us to the mountain are a big part of the problem, Climeworks presents us with an excellent sustainable approach to remove unavoidable travel emissions, that is when all other COemission mitigations and reduction strategies have been exhausted.

Besides, withdrawing tourism spending from many of these resorts would have an extremely detrimental effect; people would lose work and resorts would shrink, which is not ideal. It’s been proven that larger resorts fare better in difficult economic climates and there was $8.8tn of revenue generated worldwide in 2018 directly because of tourism. So, simply cancelling all your holidays isn’t necessarily the solution either, particularly when millions of others would continue to travel.

Skiing in Environmentally-friendly ski resort Kaprun, Austria.
Skiing in Environmentally-friendly ski resort Kaprun, Austria.
Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

Should We Be Skiing in Environmentally-friendly Resorts?

Yep! There are plenty of resorts making bold steps to fight the climate crisis and become more sustainable. The following resorts have begun to put plans and systems in place that make them our top pick for environmentally-friendly options.

Chamonix, France

Chamonix has received a green snowflake, the ‘Flocon Vert’, for their efforts towards protecting the environment. The resort received the award in 2013, 2015, and 2017. The Flocon Vert is an award that is only given when resorts meet all 21 criteria that include reducing emissions, for example. (Psst…we also love Chamonix’s après-ski scene).

Saas Fee, Switzerland

This car-free resort has an ‘Energy Town’ status and are well on their way to becoming a carbon-neutral resort. All the taxis and buses are electric meaning zero travel emissions, and all the energy that powers the resort comes from 100% renewable Valaisian hydroelectric power. We love hydroelectricity!

Kaprun, Austria

This resort was one of the leading resorts in Austria to become an ISO-Certified lift company. This means that the lifts for the Kitzsteinhorn glacier are highly energy-efficient and safe. Additionally, the resort removes waste from the mountain via a sewage pipe that is connected to the lift.

Should We Be Taking Trains Instead of Flying to Reduce Travel Emissions?
Trains have less impact on the environment.
Photo by Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash

Should We Be Taking Trains Instead of Flying to Reduce Travel Emissions?

Yes, when possible, we should. But we also appreciate that changing behaviours is hard, skiing costs money, and people don’t have endless weeks for their holidays. Bottom line is that trains are a great option to reduce carbon emissions, but they tend not to be the first choice and will also create emissions (although admittedly, much less).

So how do we attempt to justify our ski holidays amidst today’s climate crisis? By making small ongoing contributions that directly remove carbon emissions.

Climeworks Removes Unavoidable Travel Emissions 

There is no single ‘fix’, for this climate emergency, but it is clear that Climeworks offers a solution that directly addresses the issue of unavoidable emissions, of which 37.1 billion metric tonnes were released in 2018 alone.

For as little as 7 euros a month, individuals like you and I can choose to support the Climeworks initiative to remove CO2  from the air and turn it into stone. 

How Does Climeworks’ Technology Work?

Hellisheidi Power Plant
Hellisheidi Power Plant in Iceland
Photo by Arni Saeberg via Climeworks

The technology behind this is pretty simple, but also rather savvy. Essentially, there are two phases to this process. Phase one entails sucking in ambient air through a giant filter, where CO2 is captured. In phase two, once the filter is saturated with the captured CO2, it is heated to around 100°C. And before you ask, yes, Climeworks only uses renewable energy to power this process.

Next, the captured CO2 is mixed with water used by a geothermal energy plant and pumped deep underground. Through natural processes, the CO2 reacts with the basaltic rock. This then turns into stone within a few years, permanently and safely. Iceland is one of several locations around the world that provide ideal conditions for this pioneering process.

Iceland has ideal conditions for Climeworks' carbon storing processes.
Iceland has ideal conditions for Climeworks’ pioneering carbon-to-stone processes.
Photo of Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

How Can Individuals Support Climeworks? 

Individuals can now become a Climeworks Pioneer through a monthly subscription that supports Climeworks’ expansion of their program by building more machines. You can contribute €7, €21 or €49 per month.

How Does WeSki’s Partnership with Climeworks Work?

We’ve just started out as a partnership, so we’re still thinking of different ideas for future collaborations. However, we also appreciate there’s time for talk and time for action; travel emissions are being pumped into the atmosphere all day every day. So our first major project is spreading the word about Climeworks, and supporting them by part-matching contributions made by people who’ve discovered Climeworks through WeSki.

It’s simple, in order for us to match your donation, all you have to do is head to Climeworks’ website to become a pioneer.

If you sign up before the end of September, we’ll match or part-match any contribution you make. So for every €7/month contribution, we’ll contribute €7. For every €21/month contribution, we’ll contribute €10 and for every €49/month we’ll contribute €20.

Head to Climeworks’ website to become a pioneer now.

Move Over Mr Di Caprio, Ross from Crewe Is Climbing Aboard

Doesn’t matter if you’re an award-winning actor or once got a round of applause for that sketchy landing you pulled off in Tignes last season, Climeworks’ solutions means everyday folk like us can actually be a part of the efforts to combat human-induced climate change. 

The prices are friendly but we appreciate that they may not be suitable for everyone. Let us know if you would be interested in supporting Climeworks but aren’t able to do so within the current price options.

Frankly, this Whole Thing Is too Stressful for Me

We know. We feel a bit nauseous when we think about it too. But we’re determined not to give up. As a company in the travel sector, we must uphold sustainable travel and tourism practices. We want to keep giving our customers opportunities to discover new places and provide concrete, sustainable solutions to this climate crisis.

Environmental anxiety is an actual thing, by the way, so don’t think you’re alone with these feelings of overwhelming guilt and stress about what’s going on right now. We, at WeSki, as individuals who work here, care too. And that’s why we were over the moon when we partnered with Climeworks, and so keen to make contributions alongside our customers. Like you, we’re protectors of this planet and pioneers for actionable and effective solutions too.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything happening in the world right now. The rainforests are burning, our wildlife is dying, people—from indigenous tribes through to inhabitants of mega-cities—are losing their homes, losing access to water, and losing their lives in this fight to preserve the planet. But tackling things one step at a time, starting with trying to reduce travel emissions, and then taking more CO2 out the atmosphere, is a good place to start.

Saving the planet, one step at a time.
Saving the planet, one step at a time.
Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

What Can You Do to Help Save the Planet, Right Now?

  1. Sign up to Climeworks and start supporting them capture CO2 and turn it into stone.
  2. Head to an environmentally-friendly resort this season.
  3. Choose veg over meat for some of your meals on your ski holiday and save up to 20,000 litres of water per meal.
  4. Educate yourself on what’s going on with POWs resources.
  5. Where possible, choose trains over planes, and cycling and walking instead of taking the car.
  6. Let us know what you think we at WeSki should do to be greener.

So, Can I Carry on Skiing, Sustainably?

Yes. We can ski sustainably but this is dependent on a global effort to start to travel more sustainably too. We can still go on our ski trips, but now, we have the opportunity to begin to remove our unavoidable collective travel emissions. It is not too late to slam on the brakes for climate change.

Some Final Thoughts on Travel Emissions…

Just as much as this battle against travel emissions is your responsibility, it is the responsibility of everyone else too. It’s the baby steps by millions that have a massive impact that offer a way forward. So too, does gradual growth in membership for organisations like Protect our Winters and Climeworks. You can be at the forefront of all these battles. Being a Climeworks pioneer is one way that we can be part of the story of positive change. Start your Climeworks subscription or learn more about Climeworks’ technology now.

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