Published 3 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: Tomorrow's Air/Facebook
The world’s first carbon-removal collective for the travel industry offers climate-clever travelers and small businesses the ability to contribute directly to carbon removal and storage.
Global warming. Carbon offsets. Greenhouse gases. Gigatons.
Regardless of how we try to talk about the climate emergency, it’s easy to feel
bogged down in concepts and complexity. The intricacies of the increasingly dire
climate situation around the world is so intangible and relatively slow to
manifest; it can be understandably difficult to grasp what, exactly, the problem
is and what, exactly, the average person can do to meaningfully address it.
For years, Christina Beckmann felt like climate
action was an
esoteric abstract dictated by policies and investments made by people she didn’t
have access to. Stemming from the urgency of the climate emergency and her own
desire to do something about it, she co-founded Tomorrow’s
Air with social entrepreneur Nim De Swardt.
“I think a lot of people feel that way — that they want to be able to take
climate action into their own hands, to do something,” Beckmann said.
“Tomorrow’s Air is a way for those people to take action.”
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Launched in July 2020, Tomorrow’s Air is the world’s first carbon-removal
collective for travelers. Incubated by the Adventure Travel Trade
Association and launched in collaboration with
direct air-capture company Climeworks, the
initiative offers climate-clever travelers the ability to purchase ready-made
subscription packages for carbon removal and storage.
There’s good reason for travelers to take action: The travel and tourism
industry accounted for approximately 8 percent of global greenhouse gas
emissions between 2009 and
2013 — a number that was expected to grow in the following years as the industry
underwent substantial growth.
Generally speaking, for the last several years, talk about the climate emergency
emphasized the need to minimize the release of carbon emissions into the
atmosphere. Urgent action encouraged doubling down on renewable energy sources,
putting more energy-efficient systems and practices in place, cutting off
particularly dangerous pollutants such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and
Within the tourism industry, the “solution” for addressing the climate
has largely focused on investing in carbon-offset
which are measurable emission reductions from certified offset projects such as
planting trees. For many climate-conscious leisure travelers, this has meant
using carbon-offset schemes to calculate and purchase credits to offset air
as part of their sustainability practices.
However, the latest science
have made it clear that to avoid the worst-case scenarios of climate change,
reducing carbon emissions is not enough. It is essential to remove and store
some of the carbon that has already made its way into the atmosphere. In
declaring a climate
travel-related corporations are addressing carbon emission reduction and removal
through larger-scale solutions. For its part, the airline industry has been
experimenting with a variety of sustainable aviation
Nonetheless, individual engagement and action matter, too; and that’s where
Tomorrow’s Air steps in as a unique solution to this urgent problem.
“This is something that requires
collective action,” Beckmann said. While Tomorrow’s Air has the capacity to work
with large companies and destinations interested in purchasing large volumes of
carbon dioxide, its work is heavily focused on engaging small businesses and
individual travelers. In 2019, there were approximately 1.5 billion
— a number that doesn’t take domestic travel into account. “What if some tiny
proportion of them chipped in on carbon removal? We could have impact,” Beckmann
Yet, one of the stumbling blocks to activating travelers is the complexity of
global warming and carbon removal. This inaccessibility drives the traveler
outreach and engagement projects within Tomorrow’s Air, which serve as an
introduction to carbon removal and a funnel toward the initiative’s subscription
service. These include a light-hearted podcast ("Airrows on
Air"), and the
Artists for Air Network —
an initiative highlighting creative work meant to inspire and educate others
about climate action in an accessible way.
Additionally, Tomorrow’s Air has partnered with Airbnb to offer virtual
tours of Climeworks, where armchair travelers can learn about and see carbon
removal in action.
“We are trying to find all the ways we can to make climate action — and carbon
removal, in particular — accessible, inspiring, fun and cool,” Beckmann said.
Once Tomorrow’s Air has captured travelers’ attention, they are invited sign a
clean-up pact and learn more about the carbon-removal process through the
platform’s easy-to-read 101 educational
The goal is to get travelers to financially invest in carbon removal. Tomorrow’s
Air offers subscription services at three levels pay for the removal and
permanent storage of a certain amount of carbon from the atmosphere. Those
subscribing at the Champion and Leader levels have access to benefits from
several travel companies and gear brands — including exclusive customer service
support, and discount products and services.
Ultimately, though, Tomorrow’s Air hopes to activate carbon removal on a massive
scale, driving the cost down while also mainstreaming both conversation and
action — from the largest companies and governments to each individual person.
“This is the biggest problem in the world. Everyone needs to find a way into
this problem,” Beckmann said. “We all have to fight.”
Published Jan 19, 2021 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET
JoAnna Haugen is a writer, speaker and solutions advocate who has worked in the travel and tourism industry for her entire career. She is also the founder of Rooted — a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, social impact and storytelling. A returned US Peace Corps volunteer, international election observer and intrepid traveler, JoAnna helps tourism professionals decolonize travel and support sustainability using strategic communication skills.