Climate-conscious travel

Climate change is very much a peace and social justice issue because its impacts can lead to the displacement of people, which often hurts the impoverished more than the wealthy. Therefore climate change poses a barrier to Servas’ desire to be both a peace and a travel hospitality organization.

Most forms of transportation rely heavily on the use of fossil fuels. According to climate scientists, air travel is particularly damaging to the atmosphere. Today, climate change is causing worldwide misery through severe and unpredictable weather patterns, and destructive changes to oceans and land life. Worldwide misery is not peaceful; it is a source of conflict, in part because there is scarcity and competition for fewer resources.

As Servas members, we choose our travel options.

Servas Canada is asking members to reflect on the climate change impacts of our own travel and to consider some alternatives to carbon-heavy travel, such as:

  • Fly less. Consider ground transportation (trains, ferries, buses) for a closer and more relaxed view of your surroundings.
  • Pay for the carbon you emit. Calculate the carbon that your trip will emit and purchase carbon offsets for it. Use websites such as (this site calculates cost of air travel only, but enables you to purchase carbon offsets for other travel or lifestyle effects if you know the amount of carbon in tonnes). A simple estimate of a carbon cost is Cdn$0.02/km.
  • Explore your own region. Consider visiting places within short distances and finding local examples of activities you might have done in foreign places: visiting museums, galleries, and theatres, or outdoor activities (walking, hiking, camping, cycling).
  • Make your travels about quality rather than quantity. Spend time in each place you visit. Make the trip more about the people you meet, not about places you touch briefly.
  • Travel less or not at all. As a peace and travel hospitality organization, Servas offers the opportunity of connecting with people all over the globe as members who support cultural tolerance and understanding through their shared desire for peace and social justice. Valued relationships can be created and maintained through email, Skype, letter writing, Postcrossings, telephone calls, etc. ServasOnline is also set up to support finding and engaging in conversations with Servas friends.
  • Use a hybrid or electric car when you drive.
  • Eat less meat. The meat industry is a major source of carbon emissions because of the deforestation it encourages, and the methane in the gas emitted by the animals. Consider vegetarian and vegan dishes.
  • Find out the sources of electricity of places you might visit, and include this as criteria for your travel choices. Renewable energies such as wind, solar, and hydro- power are generally more environmentally friendly.