Carbon offsets to fund renewable energy projects
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Travelers to Antarctica looking to reduce their carbon footprint have a new option if they choose to voyage on Quark Expeditions’ newest ship, the Ocean Diamond.
The company announced last week that it will work with The CarbonNeutral® Company, a carbon-credit trading company, to offset ship’s emissions to offer what they’re billing as the first carbon-neutral voyages in polar travel.
The inaugural voyage of the Ocean Diamond will depart on 3 November 2012 on the Falkands, South Georgia and Antarctica itinerary.
“Since the company’s inception, Quark has been committed to environmentally responsible tourism,” said Hans Lagerweij, president of Quark Expeditions. “By operating the Ocean Diamond Antarctica voyages as carbon-neutral, we show it’s possible to visit incredible places and preserve them for future generations. The average emissions per passenger are significantly lower than some former Quark vessels.”
“The Ocean Diamond is more energy efficient, That’s one of the reasons for choosing it,” said Quark VP of operations Bill Davis. “It has worked in Antarctica in the past and it’s undergoing a bit of a re-fit.”
“I’m extremely proud of this. We’re leading the polar cruise industry. We’re the first ones to do this,” he said, adding that it might help spark similar efforts by other companies.
Carbon dioxide emissions from burned fossil fuels are the largest source of climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. Parts of both polar regions have experienced significant warming. The Antarctic Peninsula has been hit especially hard. Disintegrating shelves and dramatic shifts in penguin populations are just a few of the impacts.
Thus, traveling to Antarctica presents a fundamental paradox for environmentally conscious travelers, and Quark’s effort to make the trip carbon neutral helps provides an solution.
Davis said the first step was a comprehensive carbon audit. The most significant emissions are, of course, associated with the ship’s fuel consumption, but the audit also included emissions from refrigeration units, and even the emissions associated with crew travel to and from the ship.
After making those calculations, Quark will offset an estimated 5,682 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents with hydro, wind power and reforestation projects in Turkey, Kenya, India and China — all countries that are key emerging tourism markets, according to Quark Expeditions marketing director Rachel Hilton.
The greenhouse gas offsets are equal to removing more than 1,000 cars from the roads for one year, or cancelling 5,380 flights from New York to Tokyo. The CarbonNeutral® Company is a leading provider of carbon reduction solutions, and the projects supported will be part of company’s portfolio. The company works with with more than 300 large businesses and thousands of small and medium-sized companies in 32 countries.
Quark is currently taking reservations for the upcoming season, with 25 percent discount on reservations made before April 30 for any of the 10 departures on the Ocean Diamond’s three different itineraries during 2012-2013 season.
Introduction to Antarctica: The White Continent – 10 days, from $4,295
Antarctic Explorer: The Classic Adventure – 11 days, from $4,795
Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica – Explorers and Kings: 20 days, from $9,695
(Prices listed above are based on triple occupancy and are not included in the promotion.) For more information contact a Quark polar travel adviser at 888-892-0171 or visit www.quarkexpeditions.com.
Quark Expeditions has been leading the way in polar travel for 20 years, as the first to transit the Northeast Passage with commercial passengers; the first to take travelers to the “Far Side” of Antarctica and the first to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent with guests. Quark’s fleet includes the only polar-class icebreaker operating as an expedition ship in Antarctica.
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, tourism, Travel Tagged: | Antarctica, carbon neutral polar cruises, Carbon offset, ecotravel, Environment, Ocean Diamond, Quark Expeditions