The Three-Legged Stool of Green Travel

This week, Senior Editor Mark Rogers is attending the two-day Green Travel Summit at the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach, CA . The event is the first fully dedicated forum focused on exploring green travel strategies and their impact on business travel and corporate meetings. 

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David Refkin, former director of Sustainable Development, Time Inc, (right) with Costas Christ, of Beyond Green Travel

I was burning way too much fuel as I bombed down the 405 Freeway at 75 mph, heading towards the Green Travel Summit. I hate walking in on a movie once it has begun and I feel the same way about a major event– you don’t want to miss the keynote address because it sets the tone for what’s to come. I parked, ran into the hotel, grabbed my name badge and slipped into my seat. I was late but the event was a step behind me and I had my notebook out as David Refkin, former director of Sustainable Development, Time Inc, ambled up to the podium to give his keynote address.

“We have a problem and we have to deal with it,” said Refkin. He went on to limn the three-legged stool of sustainability – economy, environment and social responsibility.

Refkin mentioned the dangers of heightened CO2 levels and rampant population growth. “Thirty-five percent of the population on Earth lives on less than $2 a day,” said Refkin. “These people want to improve their lives. And as they do, they’ll consume more energy.”

He continued, warning the audience that climate change will cause drought and crop failures, flooding, tropical diseases moving north, and increase weather variability that will impact air travel. “Putting a $ sign in front of CO2 will be a game changer,” said Refkin.

Refkin looked out over the audience of mostly corporate execs and said, “Won’t you want to be in business with a supplier that is selling carbon offset credits instead of buying them? You know what? That supplier's prices will be lower. I’m an accountant by training. It’s simple – you use less energy, you’ll spend less money.”

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