Airplane in Sky

Rick Steves: Why I Imposed a $1M Carbon Tax on my Travel Company

This week, as the Trump administration formally begins withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord on the grounds that it’s an “unfair economic burden,” travel writer and tour operator Rick Steves explains why his company is voluntarily taking on part of that burden in the form of a yearly $1 million carbon tax.

For decades, in my work as a travel writer and tour operator, I’ve seen the harmful effects of climate change firsthand. I’ve watched the Dutch reinforce their dikes with massive storm surge barriers and the English build floodgates on medieval streets where they never needed them before. Climate change is happening everywhere – especially in the developing world, where poor communities are often hit the hardest.

There’s no denying that air travel is a significant contributor to climate change. As global citizens, we should all recognize our responsibility and seek climate-smart solutions that will ensure future travelers the opportunity to experience the world like we do. As a longtime advocate for travel who also runs a successful tour company, I’ve long been aware that my business contributes to the problem.

People will look back at our generation and see that there were three kinds of people: misguided deniers; those who knew climate change was happening but did nothing while it was still possible to make a difference; and those who recognized the problem and did what they could to help solve it.


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