Our Climate Action Plan

At Highland Explorer Tours, we are passionate about Scotland and delivering memorable, authentic experiences. We want you to marvel at the magic of the Isle of Skye, ride the famous Jacobite Steam Train, drink drams of single malt whisky straight from the source and meet adorable puffins up close: we want to share our home.  

We can’t shy away from the fact that unprecedented things are happening to our planet, however. Record-breaking temperatures are being smashed, sea levels are creeping upwards and threatening our coasts, and biodiversity is dwindling at an alarming rate. The impacts of climate change are universal and ignoring it won’t make it go away 

We Declare a Climate Emergency

It is no longer a secret that climate change poses a serious threat to what makes Scotland so special: our landscapes, wildlife, and local community.

To fight against these record-breaking temperatures, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity, we're declaring a climate emergency as a founding signatory to the Glasgow Declaration.

Read our climate emergency declaration.


Our Four-Point Plan to Combat Climate Change

Our four-point Climate Action Plan is part of our sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right. Our plan is not marked by one quick fix, because there isn’t one, it is marked with our commitment to learn and adapt as human behaviour, technology and innovation present new and exciting ways to decarbonise.


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Measure the emissions from our business and trips.



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Reduce emissions to achieve our verified science-based targets, read more about them here. We’ve even established a Carbon Fund to help fund our transition to net-zero. This is a big deal – this is us putting our money where our mouths are.



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Invest in nature-based carbon removal solutions and conservation efforts to help support projects that can restore our planet. These projects will be funded via our TreadRight Foundation.



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Continue to learn from others, invest in new technologies and support strategic alliances that enable us and the industry to move to a low carbon economy.

Our Road to Net Zero

We’re going beyond carbon neutral and have set our sights on net zero. With verified carbon-reduction targets in place, a dedicated carbon fund to support our low-carbon projects, and support for carbon removal and biodiversity projects from our non-profit, The TreadRight Foundation – it’s time to get to work. 

What can you do? 


Here’s how you can reduce your carbon footprint while travelling:  

  • Travel by coach 
    Coach travel has been proven to have substantial environmental benefits, including reducing congestion and causing less pollution per passenger kilometre than any other transportation option. Coaches have been proven to emit fewer greenhouse gases on a per passenger basis than either train or car travel (DEFRA - Dept for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs GHG Conversion Factors 2019) 

  • Use public transport when you can 
    Check ahead to see if there is public transport or a shuttle available to help you get from the airport to your accommodation. This reduces the number of cars on the road, idling and releasing GHGs. We have great local bus services in Edinburgh - to get to and from our Highland Explorer Office by public transport visit Lothian Buses.

  • Try more veggie options 
    Meat production is the primary source of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide. When you’re travelling try a new vegetarian or vegan dish 


How does travel contribute to climate change? 

Whenever we start a car or jump onto an airplane, we emit harmful emissions into the air, known as greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). GHGs are caused in part by the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) to keep our gas tanks full and our fossil-fuel based transportation system moving. GHGs trap heat from the sun within our atmosphere and the more GHGs that we emit into the atmosphere, the more heat is trapped – warming our planet.   

What is a carbon footprint? 

A carbon footprint encompasses the total amount of carbon that was emitted into the atmosphere to provide a product or service.  

How did you calculate the carbon footprint from my tour? 

Highland Explorer Tours worked with a third-party consultant to measure the carbon footprint of our tours. Here’s what we considered in scope and our responsibility to offset 

  • Transfers: any transportation provided as part of the tour 

  • Meals: any included meals as part of the tour 

  • Accommodations: all accommodations included within the tour. 

We took a regional approach to measuring these emissions, to ensure regional specific emission factors were used where possible. We will review and update the carbon footprint of our tours every three years using our custom tour emission calculator. 

Here’s what we considered out of scope and will not be included as part of our tour carbon footprint 

  • Traveller’s air travel to and from the destination 

  • All pre and post services not included in the price of the tour 

  • Emissions produced by facilities or buildings we visit on our tours (e.g., visitor attractions). These emissions are considered the responsibility of the facility as determined by internationally accepted principles for emissions accounting.  

  • Meals purchased by the traveller. 

What are science based targets? 

Science based targets are ambitious targets approved by the Science Based Target Initiative to ensure businesses reduce their emissions to limit the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C in order to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change.

What else is Highland Explorer Tours doing to reduce the carbon footprint of its tours?

Highland Explorer Tours is taking several steps to reduce the carbon footprint of our tours:

  • We use the most fuel-efficient Euro 6 coaches, and we are assessing the use of biofuels for these coaches.

  • All of our premises are run on 100% renewable electricity: our shop and bus yard in Edinburgh, and our accommodation on the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness.

  • We work with local suppliers to continually increase the selection of the freshest local food products we use, reducing GHGs associated with transport and increasing local food security.

  • We have a dedicated “Green Team” who ensure we operate in a more sustainable way. Examples include switching to an accredited sustainable stationary supplier, getting bottled milk delivered to our Edinburgh office, signing up to the “Bike to Work Scheme” and installing a shower at our HQ Edinburgh office. These steps have led to us achieving a gold Green Tourism award across all our businesses.

  • To help restore the Caledonian Forest we have pioneered an Eco Scheme where you can make an optional £2 donation when booking any tour. We will match every £1 you donate, with proceeds going to the leading Scottish environmental charity, the Trees for Life.

Why did you stop carbon offsetting?

In 2022, when we set our science-based targets we aligned ourselves with the Net-Zero Standard which focuses on emission reductions through direct action within our own business and supply chain. This prompted us to establish a dedicated carbon fund to finance our low-carbon transition. This means that rather than offsetting the emissions we might produce, we are investing in emissions reductions across our business.