LONDON, UK - As world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss concrete actions to solve the climate crises, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched an ambitious and groundbreaking Net Zero Roadmap, to guide the global Travel & Tourism sector in its battle against the climate crisis.
WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, developed the roadmap in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Accenture.
The roadmap provides concrete guidelines and recommendations to help guide Travel & Tourism businesses on their journey towards net zero.
By providing milestones for meaningful climate action and emissions reduction for different industries within the sector, the roadmap sets out the challenges ahead and how the Travel & Tourism sector can decarbonize and reach net zero by 2050.
This report shows how the sector is greatly impacted by climate change as it affects destinations around the world, but as with many other sectors, it is also responsible for an estimated 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
The sector therefore has a key role to play in fighting climate change, which will require heightened ambitions and differentiated decarbonization approaches, as outlined in the roadmap.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “I am delighted to announce our pioneering Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism. It helps travel industries reach individual targets to reduce our carbon footprint.
“Many destinations are affected by the impacts of climate change with rising sea levels, deforestation and the loss of animal and plant species. Communities that rely on tourism are first in line to see the impact and wanting to do something about it.
“The Travel & Tourism sector is taking this opportunity to be a catalyst for change. We have a responsibility towards our people and planet.
“It is absolutely critical that the private and public sector we work collectively to achieve the Paris Agreement and prevent the global rise in temperatures.
“Our sector can be part of the change that is urgently required to mitigate impacts and adapt to the threats posed by climate change.”
Emily Weiss, Managing Director and Head of Accenture’s Travel Industry Group globally, said: “As the travel industry resets after a tough few years, there is an incredible opportunity to rebuild responsibly and accelerate the shift towards a net-zero future for the sector.
“The Net Zero Roadmap offers a pragmatic but ambitious course of action that will help the industry create real and visible targets to reduce its carbon impact, providing the transparency that consumers demand. Crucially, it identifies the big levers where travel can turn a corner on emissions and provides the building blocks to create meaningful change.”
The roadmap presents a new target framework with decarbonization corridors, which groups Travel & Tourism businesses into three clusters, depending on their emission profiles and the difficulty of abating their GHG emissions.
Certain industries may achieve net zero before 2050 if more ambitious targets are set and different decarbonization approaches are followed.
The detailed roadmap includes key decarbonization levers and corresponding actions for five key industries of the Travel & Tourism sector: accommodation, tour operators, aviation, cruise, and tourism intermediaries such as online travel agents (OTAs) and metasearch engines.
Acknowledging that different industries face different challenges to decarbonize, the roadmap calls on businesses to increase their ambitions where possible and provides detailed recommendations for five areas:
1. Set baselines and emission targets now to achieve individual and sector goals
2. Monitor and report progress regularly
3. Collaborate within and across industries and government
4. Provide finance and investment required for the transition
5. Raise awareness and build knowledge and capabilities on climate change.
This roadmap calls upon world leaders to give Travel & Tourism the same level of support offered to other sectors and gives recommendations to governments on how they can support the sector, which before the pandemic represented 10.4% of the global GDP (US$9.2 trillion), in addressing climate challenges and its goals to achieve a net zero future.
The collaborative process included key organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Travalyst, and SHA (Sustainable Hospitality Alliance), among others.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.