The awareness of travel consumers is rising that our environment is worth considering. If the travel industry does not answer the call, voices will arise to discourage people to go to such idyllic places as the Caribbean.
James Post | Paradise Bay Resort & Spa
|The awareness of travel consumers is rising that our environment is worth considering. If the travel industry does not answer the call, voices will arise to discourage people to go to such idyllic places as the Caribbean.|
|James Post, Paradise Bay Resort & Spa|
We are all concerned about the alarming effects of global warming. This article tells not only about the dangers, but also gives a solution to fully compensate the carbon dioxide emission, an initiative taken by promoter of green energy James Post, who wrote history earlier this year by installing a large windmill at the Paradise Bay Resort in Grenada, the first at a resort in the world and the first in CARICOM (Eastern Caribbean). This new venture, called Carbon Free Travel has a far bigger impact as it allows the travel industry and travelers to go on vacation without contributing to global warming for flight, stay and activities at unheard affordable cost. Finally a number of energy saving tips is given, that are not only applicable to hotels and resorts.
Polar ice is melting with consequential rising sea water levels, glaciers are retreating in record speed. This will cause islands to disappear; as illustrated by the South Pacific Island Tuvalu which has concrete emigration plans to evacuate the island and relocate to New Zealand. Many other famous island favorites are also at risk, because their major attraction, the beautiful beaches, will retreat. According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, a Townsville/Australia based clearinghouse for coral reef studies, 27% of the reefs have been destroyed in the past 50 years with another 32% being at risk this century.
Rainfall and weather patterns change, causing a wide array of effects. In the Caribbean dry seasons will be longer and wet seasons wetter. Paris, now a major tourist attraction could become hot and smoggy. Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa is now already stripped of its snowcap, for the first time in 11,000 years. Last winter ski resorts in Austria had to close because there was no snow, due to global warming combined with El Nino. Warmer temperatures widen the range of malaria mosquitoes, affecting millions of travelers. Hurricanes become more intensive and frequent as the recent years have proved. There are also dramatic consequences on flora and fauna, i.e. Antarctic penguins have already declined to half its population compared to 50 years ago due to warmer seawater.
We received so many wakeup calls, lately with the Live Earth concerts, the biggest media and Internet event ever. That’s good, because the message gets thru now: Only if we take truly significant measures we may be able to limit the temperature rise this century to 2 degrees Celsius. Many years ago this was predicted as a dreadful future, now it has become a target, which is only reachable when drastic measures are taken.
There are many more negative effects of global warming, but this article does not pretend to give a complete explanation as this is widely known and published, but just a quick summary to illustrate the seriousness.
All over the world laws are implemented to regulate the industry. Wind energy received a big impulse with the introduction of offshore wind farms, where the landscape limitations that slowed down the growth of windmills do not apply. The latest development are floating windmills from Norway (video starts in Dutch, flows over in English)
Hydro is by itself a good source, but the growth options are more limited.
Solar energy is growing fast and with production costs getting down growth may mean that solar energy will get more meaning. But in spite of the fast growth of green energy, it does not go fast enough, also considering the growth of energy use. Energy reduction and offset of CO2 emission are therefore vital.
Another inconvenient truth
Travelers are part of the problem. And we all travel; for work and leisure. Nobody really wants to stop flying or driving their car. While energy saving cars, trains and airplanes are coming to the market, this will not have a significant impact on the short term. So, the only real option is to offset the CO2 emission.
Aircrafts - 18% of climate change impact
Researchers from Oxford University stated recently that the transport sector is responsible for 26% of the total CO2 emission in the UK. Within the sector, aircrafts are responsible for 70% of the climate change impact, while cars were responsible for 25%, and public transport for 3.5%.
Project leader John Preston said that the percentages represented "climate change impact", not CO2 emissions, because the study took into account "positive radiative forcing", which refers to evidence that CO2 emissions from aircraft at high altitudes are more potent than CO2 released at ground level.
"That is part of the reason why we come up with a much bigger figure for emissions from aviation than is often quoted by the aviation industry, which tends not to include radiative forcing," he explained.
The study concluded that personal carbon credits would be the more effective way to curb greenhouse gas emissions. (source: BBC News, 1 February 2007).
To illustrate the impact of air transport: A flight for one person from Europe to the Caribbean is responsible for approximately 6 tons (13,000 lb) of CO2 emission. Nine trees could be planted to offset this emission.
Zero Carbon Vacation
The stay, local transport and activities also have a negative impact on climate change and can also be offset to have a true zero carbon vacation. Paradise Bay Resort & Spa is the first resort in the world to announce this with guaranteed implementation within six months, but strives to implement during the fourth quarter of 2007.
Guests have no option nor need to do anything to take part in this program. It will be an automatic and –as of 1 January 2008- certified program, which will be externally audited where return flights, stay at the resort, local transport and activities are fully compensated.
James Post: “I believe that when you want to seriously present yourself as a sustainable tourism destination, you can’t limit that to superficial issues. True sustainable resorts and hotels in my view must fulfill the promise for 100% and this requires stronger commitments than current certification programs require.”
Paradise Bay Resort & Spa expects to be a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange as of 1. October 2007 and will upgrade to associate member as of 1 January 2008, which involves external audits and is therewith 100% accountable. The resort will keep extensive records to calculate the average CO2 emission per guest per day. The local transport will need to be estimated and averaged to allow a workable system. The flight related emission will be calculated using proven calculators. Each guest obtains a certificate with detailed calculations.
An environmental lunch
The resort will encourage local initiatives that compensate or reduce CO2 emission and will submit these projects for approval. The resort will kick this program in motion by planting more trees at the resort, currently estimated at 500. While these local campaigns may not have a significant impact it is important to make people aware of the dangers of global warming. This educational process, supported by the local media, may not lead to many projects, as a small island like Grenada has almost no industry and mostly organic agriculture.
One of the proposed projects is to subsidize the purchase of energy saving household equipment such as refrigerators and washing machines. In the Caribbean the awareness is very minimal although the savings for the consumer are obvious. Nevertheless, people tend to purchase the cheapest products, which typically have the lowest energy ratings. The following example illustrates this clearly:
Paradise Bay announced a program last month, whereby all restaurant guests, who buy energy saving light bulbs from the resort during July and August at a under-market value, get a free lunch with the same value as the bulbs purchased. This program, aimed to motivate people led to a lower than normal occupancy at the restaurant from local patrons, although the program was even announced and recommended in the press.
Trainee Nanouk Rodenburg from the Netherlands: “I handed out more than 2,000 flyers and explained people in the street why they should consider energy saving light bulbs. A small minority understood the message, but they typically already had installed energy saving light bulbs. Most people said to be positive about the idea, but they did not come. It is clear that the majority of people are not accustomed to think on the longer term and do not recognize the related savings at all. I therefore warmly support Mr. Post’s concept to subsidize the purchase of energy saving products. That may really help. I could not believe it would be so difficult to sell a free lunch. I spoke to people who said their company sells energy saving light bulbs, so it does not apply to them. They could have sold the lamps and have a free lunch was my simple thought. We have a long way to go....”.
Paradise Bay believes that the only approach that will work on the local market is to compensate the difference in price between energy saving and energy wasting products. A study will be performed to calculate the environmental impact. If this study confirms the consideration that the environmental impact will justify the subsidy, it will be entered for approval.
Carbon Free Travel
James Post: “We do not wish to stay the first resort to offer zero carbon vacations. I consider it my personal mission to promote this concept to the travel industry and consumers. In my former business life I was a managing director in a technical software house. I approached my former executives to cooperate and help automate the process to let other hotels and resorts –or individual guests or travel agents- participate in the Carbon Free Travel and found an open ear. So I gave green light and we will present a fully automated process that is not only accurate and accountable but also very efficient and offer carbon credits at a price far below market level. I realize that this may not make us popular with offset companies charging higher prices, but in order to motivate travelers and the industry to comply we must offer a truly affordable price. I did the same job in my former career where we made Electronic Design Automation accessible for a large audience by working lean & mean. In that respect this is a déjŕ vu”
The accessibility of Carbon Free Travel will be broad. Individual travelers will find it as easy as booking a flight to book their carbon credit certificate. Travel agents will be offered a retail model, while tour operators and portals will be approached for wholesale conditions, allowing them to integrate the Carbon Free Travel certificate into their existing reservation systems.
While Carbon Free Travel formally is a trading name of Paradise Bay –allowing a quick and less costly start-, Carbon Free Travel will not mention the resort’s name –other than the resort being a charter member- to prevent conflicts of interests. Hotel chains, travel agent groups, associations and tour operators, who sign up before implementation, will be extensively featured as charter members to reward them for their early commitment.
ENERGY SAVING UPDATE
Using green energy and buying carbon credits are important steps to a better environment. But saving energy is also a major factor. The information below is how we presented the case to the Caribbean, where the impact is the highest, because both the cost of energy and the environmental impact are amongst the highest in the world.
Lighting is a major energy consumer and responsible for 12-15% of the total CO2 emission. CFL's (energy saving lamps) were a step forward, but have the disadvantage of using poisonous mercury and phosphor. LED lamp suppliers claim sustainability but the majority of their product lifetime is equal to CFL's. Lemnis Lighting, a Dutch hi-tech company, developed Pharox, a LED Lamp with an amazing lifetime of 50,000 hours. Compare to 1,000 hours for traditional (incandecent) light bulbs and 6,000 hours for CFL's. The power consumption of the Pharox lamp is only 3.4 Watt, compared to 6 Watt for a CFL and 40 Watt for a traditional light bulb. More information: www.lemnislighting.com This solution not only saves a lot in energy consumption, but also saves CO2 in production because of the long lifetime.
To put this in perspective: When all American households would replace four incandescent light bulbs with four Pharox lamps, this would save 22 billion kWh per year. Over the lifetime of the lamp this would have saved 347,000 tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent to planting 507,000 trees, according to John Rooymans, CTO of Lemnis.
Refrigerators are the next major opportunity to save energy. At this time, almost all refrigerators sold in the Caribbean are bought on the basis of purchase cost alone. Other than in most western countries, the consumer is not informed about the power consumption of a refrigerator. The most efficient refrigerator (A++) has an energy index of 30 while the least efficient (cheapest in purchase) refrigerator (G) is 125. That means four times more power consumption! The energy savings run in the hundreds EC$ per year, approximately the same as the price difference. Over the lifetime of the refrigerator, people spend more money on wasted energy than on the refrigerator itself. In Europe, classes D, E, F and G are meanwhile banned, which reduces the difference to a factor 3. A similar approach goes for washing machines were the most efficient version scores two times better than the worst. For other household appliances the same principle is valid, while the impact is usually less. Another opportunity to save big goes for TV addicts. A 20” LCD TV costs almost EC$ 2,000 but saves up to 200 EC$ per year. Affordable luxury?
The awareness of consumers is rising that our environment is worth considering. If the travel industry would not answer the call, voices would come up to discourage people to go to such idyllic places as the Caribbean. It is therefore in the industry’s best interest to answer the call and participate in either program to offset carbon dioxide emission. Informal research shows that more than 10% of US travelers consider themselves as sustainable tourists.
About Paradise Bay Resort & Spa
The resort is located amidst 1000’s acres varied nature on a hill between two beaches. Nine villas are spread out in a half circle with unrestricted views. Five easy walks and intermediate hikes start from the resort and are appreciated even by non-hikers. Local guides explain flora and fauna and climb in coconut trees for refreshing natural drinks.
The beach massage gazebo (sea water flowing under the guest), the idyllic Frangipani Beach Bar & Grill, dancing at the beach set the tone for this resort, where guests are one with nature and get away from it all. It’s a Honeymoon Hotspot and has a wedding reception building with gorgeous views. Three more massage stations offer fresh-from-the-garden Aloe Vera treatments and use local seaweed for hair and body treatments, in addition to the traditional Swedish aromatherapy full body massage. The entertainment choice is smaller than large all inclusive resorts, but the Super Inclusive option offers daily massage, scuba diving, 9 course golf, catamaran trips, whale and dolphin watching and ocean kayaks included in the competitive price in addition to gourmet dining.
The resort offers guests a free –on demand- shuttle service to the nearest taxi-bus station –with excellent and fast connections throughout the island and encourages guests to use these inexpensive and environmentally friendly taxi buses instead of taxis or rental cars.
About the author
James Post was a successful executive in the high tech electronic design world, before merging his Dutch company Ultimate Technology BV with Toronto based Electronics Workbench Inc, acquired by National Instruments Inc. in 2005. In 2000 he moved to the Caribbean to build a small scale ECO resort, but could not help chasing his high tech aspirations and realizing his environmental ideals, that led to the first resort with a windmill. He is a true promoter of green energy and energy conservation and organizes free educational tours to the windmill. He supports other resorts and interested parties in the Caribbean with free advice. James is a regular contributor of articles that support these goals.
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