Your Carbon Footprint when visiting Raja Ampat, and how to reduce it
Consider this, when flying from Paris or Los Angeles to Raja Ampat return, one person will generate:
Alarming isn’t it?
Travelling on an aeroplane generates alot of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, aviation produced around 2.4% of total CO2 emmissions (of which a whopping 88% is tourism and leisure-related flying) and 5% of the emissions that contribute to the world’s climate-warming problem. If global commercial aviation were a country in the national CO2 emissions standings, the industry would rank number six in the world!
Air travel is just about the most unsustainable thing an individual can do in terms of climate impact.
So, given the fact that climate change is the single biggest threat to coral reefs worldwide, how is it possible to have an eco-friendly holiday in Raja Ampat to see the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, considering the amount of harm we cause simply by…. arriving?
How big is your Footprint?
It is a complicated and difficult question to answer, and we’re not saying ‘don’t fly’. This is not a solution and is unrealistic for many reasons, including no less, that because on a local scale tourism in Raja Ampat brings a number of benefits.
At The SEA People, we believe awareness and understanding of your individual impact and influence on the environment is a critical step in making informed choices about travel. Therefore, we believe it is very important that any visitor considers their carbon footprint when travelling to Raja Ampat, and does all they can BEFORE, DURING and AFTER their trip to reduce and offset their emissions. Unfortunately, in the absence of this, an ‘eco-friendly’ holiday in Raja Ampat can at best be a contradiction, and at worst an impossibility.
Here are some of our suggestions to reduce your overall CO2e emissions and contribute towards a more genuine, un-greenwashed, eco-friendly holiday in Raja Ampat.
Number #1: when saving for a holiday, save up your emissions as well!
By ‘saving up’ (ie: reducing) your carbon emissions before travel, you can help offset the emissions load you create when flying across the world. With all the knowledge and technology available these days, it is easier than ever for individuals and households to make more climate responsible decisions. Read on for a few of the many ways to do this before, during and after your trip to Raja Ampat.
Fly Less, Stay Longer
Take less trips per year and save up your carbon credits for one longer trip (tell your boss your longer holiday is good for the environment!)
Choose your airline and route wisely
Where possible, choose direct flights without layovers; going through hubs adds major chunks of emissions to your flight.
A first class ticket on a long-haul flight results in, on average, four times as many emissions as an economy seat.
Offset your carbon emissions
Responsible airlines will offer this option to you for anywhere between the cost of a coffee to a meal in a mid-priced restaurant. Despite this low cost, only 5% of people offset their flights. Be one of the good people!
Reduce the amount of stuff you’re carrying
The heavier your bags the greater the payload the higher the emissions. Take a few things out… the environment will be grateful.
Turn off and/or unplug before you leave home
Turn off and/or unplug your emission causing items at home (gas, electricity). Shut down as much as you can for the time you will be away.
Learn about Responsible Tourism in Raja Ampat before you arrive
Please visit Raja Ampat Marine Park’s recommendations for Responsible Tourism before your arrive. This local knowledge will serve you well and enhance your trip!
Whilst in Raja Ampat, do your best to eat locally sourced food
Sitting down to dinner in Raja Ampat and eating beef from Australia, apples from Japan, cheese from Europe and wine from Chile costs a lot in terms of emissions! There is an abundance of local produce that can be used in a variety of cuisines – choose them instead. If you’re unsure where your food is coming from – just ask!
Reduce food waste during your stay (and at home!)
We know it’s easy on holiday to overload your plate and then not finish everything – it happens to the best of us! But consider the immediate and local impact of this (ie: where does this food waste go – compost? the sea? other? Check with your hosts/operator) along with the global impact of food production and waste.
Whatever you do… at home and away, don’t add to the 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted annually worldwide (fyi – that’s 30% of global production)!
Be aware of Greenwashing - unfortunately, it happens
The marketing is easy, the doing is harder! Given its remote location, sustainable practice can be more difficult in Raja Ampat. However, it is still extremely important to choose operators that make genuine efforts with sustainable and responsible practice.
Things to look out for include; chemical cleaning products in use (front and back of house), food source and food waste, oil/chemical disposal, types of boat engine, energy supply, water usage and disposal (including sewerage/waste water), and plastic consumption (food packaging, shopping, garbage). Look beyond the marketing, because that’s where most green-washing occurs.
Be mindful of your Social Media activity
We appreciate that so many people want to share aspects of their holiday and travels on social media – why wouldn’t you when Raja Ampat is so beautiful! But when doing so, please keep in mind that as the phenomenon of social media continues to grow, social media influencers have ironically spoiled some of the stunning places they love, contributing to hordes of others flocking to the #instagramfamous sites, leaving trash behind and destroying natural habitat.
Be smart with your social media posts. They have influence and impact.
The Invisible Burden
The CO2e emissions generated by flying to Raja Ampat, or any other tourist destination, is one of the many ‘invisible burdens’ of the tourism industry upon the natural world.
Whilst the industry brings numerous social and economic benefits, for many nature based tourism destinations the rapid growth of tourism (pre covid-19) is leading to damage that is largely unreported and frequently not perceived, putting the same natural resources that attract tourists in the first place at risk.
For a more detailed understanding of the hidden impacts of tourism upon the natural world and how we can better address them, we encourage you to explore The Invisible Burden of Tourism, a report by The Travel Foundation.
The Time is Now
Raja Ampat remains seemingly undeveloped when compared to other heavily touristed areas around the world, whose environments are suffering greatly from overtourism (when ironically, it is these environments tourists from all over the world are travelling to see). But this does not mean this remote archipelago will remain this way; already there are regional reefs displaying signs of degradation caused by human (over)activity.
The coral reefs of Raja Ampat will not survive over tourism. It is for this reason that RIGHT NOW, particularly in the break that restricted travel is affording, it is absolutely critical to implement genuine sustainable tourism management; from the approach we take to new infrastructure, to the way we regulate the number and activities of visitors in this most abundant and biodiverse, yet fragile and sensitive marine environment.
The SEA People collaborates with local communities, private sector and local government on projects that support the sustainable use and protection of marine resources. By developing mutually beneficial stakeholder based solutions, we seek to address existing and emerging threats to the reefs of Raja Ampat, and the local communities whose lives and livelihoods depend upon them.
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donors, the work doesn’t get done!
CHECK OUR WISHLIST
Click Here to see our Wishlist of skills or items need to support our fieldwork.