Decarbonizing Vancouver Island’s Tourism Economy
4VI conducts one of the largest tourism carbon audits in North America – standing by its commitment to making tourism a force for good on Vancouver Island—forever
Traditional Territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo, BC), April 24, 2023 – Non-profit social enterprise 4VI (formerly Tourism Vancouver Island) has completed a comprehensive carbon audit for tourism emissions in the Vancouver Island Region.
[Carbon Audit and Climate Action Plan linked at bottom of page]
The audit found that the impact of more than 10 million visitors generated a total of 2,010,426 tCO2e. Put in context, the total is equivalent to 540,000 cars driving on the road for a year.
As an organization, 4VI strongly believes that climate action needs to be a top priority; in keeping with the goal of making tourism a force for good on Vancouver Island, they have set a target to cut emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.
There is a need to move away from carbon- and material-intensive ways of delivering visitor experiences, instead prioritizing community and ecosystem wellbeing. 4VI believes that tourism must be a leader in transforming to a low-carbon future as climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss jeopardise most tourism-related activities. The impacts of climate change are also most severely felt by under-represented and vulnerable groups such as women, Indigenous communities, people living with disabilities, and small island states.
“We know that sustainable tourism can be a force for good, and we are committed to creating positive impacts in the communities we serve,” said Brian Cant, Acting President & CEO at 4VI. “Our goal is to create a more sustainable future for tourism and this audit sets the necessary baseline to effect positive and lasting change.”
Welcoming more than 10 million visitors annually has a carbon footprint – the key is knowing the size of that footprint. Informed by the residents of Vancouver Island and with support from Synergy Enterprises, 4VI undertook a comprehensive carbon audit of the tourism region based on data from 2019. The Vancouver Island Region is the first destination in North America to perform a carbon audit and is the only destination in the world that has successfully implemented a bottom-up approach. This is where primary source data, such as total room nights or number of flights from a given country, for activities happening within the regional boundary and uses that data to calculate the associated emissions. This approach allows for higher granularity and accuracy than the top-down approach, provided there is adequate data available to match the scope of the report.
The audit was conducted by utilizing data from primary and secondary source organizations, such as BC Ferries, Destination British Columbia, and Statistics Canada. The areas within the audit include Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and a stretch of the British Columbia mainland coast between Moses and Bute inlets. The region is home to more than 50 First Nations within the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Coast Salish peoples.
“We are thrilled to see that 4VI is taking steps to really understand where businesses on the Island stand in terms of carbon emissions and the environment,” said Jill Doucette, Founder, Synergy Enterprises. “The only way to move forward is to understand where you’ve been, and we are really excited to work together with 4VI and other local businesses to see where we can go as a truly sustainable tourism destination.”
Not surprisingly transportation – including international travel, domestic travel, vehicles, ferries, buses, and RVs – accounts for nearly half of total emissions. Coming second is the food and beverage sector at 32%. Tours, goods and services, and accommodation makes up the remainder of the annual emissions.
Now that 4VI knows the tourism sector’s total carbon emissions and where they come from, the next step is doing something about it. 4VI has established five key goals to tackle the sector’s carbon emissions and help make the Vancouver Island Region’s tourism sector a climate action and sustainable tourism leader. The climate action plan is based on partner and rightsholder engagement and best practices from around the world.
Create a baseline Greenhouse Gas Inventory for tourism activities on Vancouver Island and support the efforts of business and community DMOs.
Cut tourism emissions in half over the next decade and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050, reduce emissions from 195 kgCO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per visitor (2019 baseline) to less than 100 kgCO2e by 2030 at the latest, and grow the Vancouver Island Region Biosphere community to 200 Biosphere Committed businesses.
As an industry, reach $10 million in eco-fees going to conservation by 2030, support or initiate one regenerative tourism project each year, and create a resource web portal for tourism operators and visitors related to regenerative tourism.
Collaborate with communities on measurement and capacity building for Vancouver Island Region operators and share best practices with signatories to the Glasgow Declaration.
Support at least $2 million in funding applications by 2025 through the Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative and support at least one joint funding application every year.
To learn more about the program, visit forvi.ca/sustainability/
4VI (formerly Tourism Vancouver Island) is a non-profit social enterprise organization, created to ensure that travel is a force for good for Vancouver Island – forever. The ‘4’ in its name captures its four key social commitments — to the community, business, culture, and the environment. This focus extends to the work the organization does each day. Every opportunity for 4VI now and in the future will align with these social goals. The team’s mandate is to deliver innovative tourism advisory services, working directly with communities on Vancouver Island to both identify opportunities for enhanced tourism experiences and deliver on them. 4VI is the first destination management organization of its kind to not just commit to changing how tourism is managed, but to developing the corporate structure as a social enterprise that drives needed change. Learn more at forvi.ca.
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