Rick Steves (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Rick Steves (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change

“If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment,” he said.

EDMONDS — Rick Steves sees climate change in nearly every country he visits.

Drought keeps Ethiopian farmers from growing crops, skiers can no longer enjoy the Swiss Alps in summer, and people flock from southern to northern Europe to escape the heat.

Steves says the travel industry contributes to these problems, including his own business, Rick Steves’ Europe in Edmonds.

He’s decided to donate $1 million each year from his company’s profits in an effort to combat climate change. The program is called Climate Smart Commitment.

He plans to give $30 for each of his customers. Experts say it takes about that much to lessen the impact one traveller has on the environment.

About 30,000 people book the company’s services each year. That adds up to about $900,000, and is then rounded up.

The company’s prices are not expected to change.

According to Steves, one person’s round-trip flight from Seattle to Europe can create as much carbon emissions as six months of driving.

The company doesn’t book flights, but provides travel planning and hosts tours through Europe.

The donations are an important part of running an ethical operation, Steves said.

“It’s not an issue of can we afford it,” he said. “If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment.”

The money is now going to three different organizations, and possibly more in the future.

So far they include Project Concern International, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger and Bread for the World.

Each helps those in poverty through climate change, such as farmers who can’t grow food during a drought, or those who go hungry because of the ruined crops.

Steves also has written dozens of travel guides, hosts TV and radio shows, and writes a weekly column that appears in local newspapers.

He hopes other travel businesses are encouraged to start similar practices.

Steves, who grew up in Edmonds, also has donated millions of dollars to local causes. Those include a 24-unit YWCA housing project in Lynnwood, the Edmonds Center for the Arts, an Edmonds community center and a community center planned at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

More in Northwest

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier held a roundtable at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Oct. 3 to talk about the Trump administration’s plan to further change SNAP food benefits rules and reduce the number of people using them. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Murray, Schrier vow to fight White House restrictions on food stamps

Senator and Representative met Oct. 3 at Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth. File photo
King County isn’t on track to meet emissions goals

The goals were ambitious but progress has been slow.

Several roads in King County, including the Snoqualmie Parkway, were closed when a brief snow storm struck the region last February. File photo
More roads in King County could be plowed during winter storms

Proposal targets 70 more miles in unincorporated areas.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo
King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

Bellevue is the most expensive place in the region to rent an apartment, according to a new analysis. Courtesy photo
Several Eastside cities are among most expensive to rent in Northwest

Bellevue topped the list for highest apartment rents during the first half of 2019.

Spring Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish and Wildlife Service
State awards millions for salmon recovery

Puget Sound counties received more than $45 million.

PSE’s battery storage project could help the clean energy rollout

Tiny pilot project in Glacier could eventually be expanded to Puget Sound region.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Mukilteo schools may soon have state’s highest paid teachers

Teachers ratified a new contract Monday and the Board of Education will consider it next month.