First Report for Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism
EplerWood International (EWI) seeks to measure its climate footprint and has kept records on its electricity use and natural gas uses since 2019. The company is based in Burlington, Vermont, U.S., which has policies to become carbon neutral and has achieved carbon neutrality for electricity and has a clear Net Zero policy for managing our community’s goals for meeting a Net Zero goal for 2030. This is defined as “reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuel use from the heating and ground transportation sectors” by 2030. Burlington’s Electric Department has been seeking to achieve energy efficiency for the past 30 years, and it is a leader in providing incentives to local taxpayers to better and more efficiently heat and light their homes, via energy efficiency efforts throughout the city, using measured testing systems to ensure results are being achieved. Our City has both wind turbines and hydroelectricity sources comprising 99% of our electric power.
EplerWood International is located in the City of Burlington and uses 100% electric power from the City’s renewable sources. We are active politically in the City and work with our legislators and Electric Company, which is owned by the City, to discuss our renewable portfolio and make comments on their projections for future power sources or use of our electric plant. We attend neighborhood assemblies to discuss issues with our power company and even chat with their representatives at our farmers’ market.
EplerWood International is tracking its natural gas uses for heating the most closely. We set a benchmark for 2019 and undertook another insulation project on our 1898 wooden home and finalized the effort with a blow test which showed we have improved our insulation to the maximum degree possible. In terms of our use of natural gas, we have reduced it between 2019 and 2022 by roughly 10%, when taking into account a 5% increase in average temperature in Burlington and a 47% increase in natural gas prices, according to our gas invoices.
EplerWood International’s flight profile has changed substantially between 2019-2022 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Overall, between 2020-2022, we used just one flight to British Columbia for a speech in March 2020, and then suspended travel and have used Zoom for all consulting work since that time. We will therefore set out a new benchmarking system on flights once work in other countries resumes. The company uses the carbon offset firm, Native Energy, a local firm, to offset our flights in the 2017-2019 time frame, and would resume working with that company if and when we resume more work requiring more flights.
The company has not required any ground transportation in the same time period.
EplerWood International uses individuals who work for the company on contract. We have no employees. We have not sought to measure and manage our contractors’ carbon footprint.
Accomplishments in Reducing Climate Impacts Using Measured Data
- EWI has reduced its use of fossil fuels for heating our home office by 10% between 2019-2022.
- EWI has eliminated international and local flights for business between April 2020-December 2022.
– In 2019, EWI emitted 5.93 Tons of Carbon for its Flights – according to the Native Energy Calculator, cross checked with the Carbon Footprint Calculator. These emissions were offset using the Green Bricks for Residential and commercial Buildings project in Madhya Pradesh, India, brokered by Native Energy.
– Because of the pandemic EWI had only one flight in 2020 to Vancouver from Burlington, VT in February 2020 and had not resumed fights on behalf of the firm as of December 2022.
– We will begin to calculate the flight carbon emissions for our work again in 2023.
Goals for Reducing Climate Impacts in 2023
• EWI will continue to monitor its use of fossil fuel energy in the home office and seek to transition to electric heat sources in the next 5-7 years.
• EWI will continue to monitor all flight uses and carbon emissions and seek to lower them based on the 2019 baseline, starting in 2023.
Accomplishments in Decarbonizing
1. EWI has established a largely on-line research program, STAMP, at Cornell University which offers a wide range of initiatives that allow students and researchers to study and learn to manage tourism and destinations by using data-oriented methods, which will help lower the GHG emissions of tourism on an on-going basis.
2. EWI now has access to an electric car, a Chevy Bolt, for all transport for 2023- and a new Amtrak train from Burlington, VT to both Washington and New York, which will be used for both business and personal use.
Goals for Decarbonizing
1. EWI is seeking to foster a system wide change in decision making for tourism, which is based on Climate Reporting, using environmental and social metrics, that EWI teams at Harvard and Cornell Universities developed. We have researched and successfully gathered relevant data for reporting on GHG emissions at the destination level on Djerba Island, a major tourism destination in Tunisia and Block Island, Rhode Island which depends on the tourism economy almost entirely. We plan to foster the use of destination-focused decarbonization efforts that goes beyond economic/GHG projections, to work directly with local people and their representatives on the management and implementation issues involved with lowering GHG emissions using science-based metrics at the destination level worldwide. We have already produced a series of reports with the Pacific Asia Travel Association on financing this approach.
EplerWood International works on questions of regeneration via our positive work on the future of travel and its sustainable management. We achieve this via our collaboration with Cornell University, and the management of the program Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) at the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (CSGE), SC Johnson College of Business. We have partnered with Cornell since 2017 to ensure the tourism industry protects its environmental and social assets on which the industry depends.
The Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) is developing a global knowledge base, online professional and student training, as well as the research and technical support for destinations to more effectively manage tourism assets in the face of endemic poverty, ecosystem degradation, climate change and public health crises. STAMP supports applied research and engagement to develop sustainable tourism models which incorporate the cost of managing vital destination assets in the development of all sectors of the tourism economy.
Among our projects are Financial Assistance to 1000 students worldwide to take the Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program, (STAMP) in 2023. We offer this self-paced downloadable course to individuals worldwide, who do not need to travel to study, in order to help enable destinations to more easily manage and account for their GHG emissions.
Cornell STAMP also takes on industry-sponsored projects to leverage Cornell graduate students. Past teams have worked on projects in Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Palau and the US focused on issues such as strategic impact assessment, business model development, climate change financing analysis, and more. In some cases partner organizations have also been involved such as Sustainable Travel International and the Tourism Area Protected Specialist Group (TAPAs).
Megan Epler Wood is a Sustainable Tourism Advisor to the Pacific Asia Travel Association since October 2022. She has undertaken distance presentations on Zoom for Careers in Sustainable Tourism and Rural Tourism in Asia to date.
Megan Epler Wood sits on the UNWTO On Line Education Committee since January 2021, where she advises the international committee on using online education approaches, which greatly reduce the carbon footprint of educational programs as a result.
EWI works to support destinations and we have worked with a wide range of clients over the past 20 plus years to support their efforts to lower their impacts and create positive, net benefits for local people that can be measured and monitored.
EWI together with Cornell STAMP are continuing to raise funds for our program of work. We will have the opportunity to work with a range of countries, people, and destinations worldwide, and we will design these programs to be certain they support climate resilience and climate reporting that leads to on-the-ground systems to lower travel GHG emissions, based on the course materials and technical assistance we will provide on an on-going basis.