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

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo
Lawmakers flinch on banning for-profit detention facilities

Last minute amendment exempted ICE detainment facility.

A proposal to make King County Metro fares free for low-income households could be approved in the coming months. File photo
King County considers free transit for low-income residents

The program would target those at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level.

Federal Way resident Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, 17, died Jan. 27, 2017. Courtesy photo
Law enforcement challenges report on sting operation that killed Federal Way teen

King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight’s findings rattle Sheriff’s Office, police union.

Unstable housing? Apply for Section 8

Applications open in February for housing vouchers

In 2018, the city of Seattle approved and then repealed a head tax within a month. It would have levied a $275 per employee tax on businesses grossing more than $20 million annually. Sound Publishing file photo
County head tax bill passes committee

Bill would let King County levy a tax on businesses to fund housing and address homelessness.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs the first bill of the 2020 legislative session into law. On the right stands the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who is wearing a red tie. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gov. Inslee signs tax bill to help fund higher education

Law shifts a portion of the tax burden to large tech companies.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Metro bus fleet will be electrified by 2035

Future base in South King County would house hundreds of the zero-emission vehicles.

Three-quarters of the suicide deaths among children ages 10 to 14 are caused by firearms, according to a new report from the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Washington. File photo
King County studies youth gun violence amid rising suicides

It’s unclear what’s driving the trend.

A King County work crew clears a road near Preston on Feb. 7, 2020. Heavy rains appear to have caused multiple landslides along the road. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
The future could look a lot like this year’s flood season

Climate change is expected to lead to more winter flooding in King County.

State Capitol Building, Olympia, Washington. File photo
Mental illness: Lawmakers propose plan to treat without consent

Concerns raised on the guardianship and loss of rights for incapacitated persons.

High tides, as seen in this file photo of Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Pacific County, could become the norm in the future due to sea level rise. Sound Publishing file photo
UW summarizes Washington climate impact on water

The report localizes information from the United Nations.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.