Rick Steves’s Bold New Climate Commitment

Venice Sculpture Giant HandsGiant sculpture hands rise from a Venice Canal.
AlenaKravchenko/Dreamstime

In Venice, the sculpture "Support" by Lorenzo Quinn makes a dramatic statement about climate change and rising sea levels.

The travel authority and activist announces a massive initiative to help address the effects of climate change around the world.

When Rick Steves talks about the condition of the planet, people listen. The author of more than 50 travel guidebooks and host of a PBS travel series, Steves has witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change around the globe, from rising sea levels to extreme weather events to overall global warming.

Introducing the Climate Smart Commitment

Steves is now using his considerable platform to help slow the effects of climate change. His Climate Smart Commitment will donate $1 million annually to fund climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry, and conservation projects in underdeveloped countries, with a portion of the funding going to climate advocacy organizations in the U.S.

The Climate Smart Commitment is noteworthy not only for its $1 million annual price tag but also for rejecting the conventional “carbon offset credits” approach that some businesses adopt, which often focus on funding clean energy projects in North America and Europe. Instead, Steves has chosen to work with organizations that are directly addressing climate change in developing countries, with an emphasis on projects that empower women to take leadership roles as they strengthen communities and help protect their environment.

Addressing the Global Effects of Travel

If Steves’s climate commitment sounds like an act of pure altruism, guess again. That $1 million annual investment is actually what Steves estimates he “owes” to the environment due to the carbon emissions created by the 30,000 travelers who take his European tours each year: Scientists estimate that the carbon emissions from a single traveler on one of Steves’s tours requires $30 in careful investment to offset.

“We don’t see this program as particularly heroic,” says Steves.“It’s simply ethical. We believe every business should bear the cost to the environment of their activities. That’s just honest accounting. We hope this program will inspire everyone who buys or sells tours to practice the same environmental ethic. This way, long after we are gone, our children will be able to enjoy the same happy travels we have.”

To learn more, visit www.ricksteves.com/climate

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