The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has signed up to the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative with a pledge to measure its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce what it can and offset the rest, while promoting the same climate-friendly regimen to its 150 members worldwide.
This pledge adds momentum to global climate action taken by organizations, companies, events and individuals to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Travel and tourism generates just over 10% of global GDP and plays a crucial role in climate change. WTTC supports 313 million jobs in this industry and seeks to reduce 50% of total travel and tourism carbon emissions by 2035.
During the this year’s WTTC Global Summit, WTTC announced a partnership with UN Climate Change and agreed on a common agenda for climate action in travel and tourism.
The Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Patricia Espinosa said: “We recognize that Travel and Tourism has a huge role to play in addressing climate change. While climate change itself poses significant risks to some tourism destinations, in many of the most high-risk areas, tourism can provide opportunities for communities to build resilience to its impacts.”
As part of the commitment, WTTC will compile the best sustainability practices in the travel and tourism sector and encourage companies to set science-based targets.
Chris Nassetta, WTTC Chair and CEO of Hilton said: “Building on the global scientific consensus around decarbonization efforts that came out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and WTTC’s subsequent call for the dialogue on carbon to turn to science-based targets, now it is time to turn that dialogue into action.”
To push for sustainable growth in tourism, WTTC has initiated the “Tourism For Tomorrow” awards to encourage companies to do business in an environmentally-friendly way. This involves a wide range of activities such as investments in green technologies, development of environmental policies, and strategies to address climate change.
Here are 10 categories of climate action in the travel and tourism industry in which stakeholders have demonstrated inspiring leadership:
1. Supplying sustainably sourced food:
- The Accor Hotel chain grows its own vegetables, on site, at many of its hotels.
- Soneva Group in South East Asia also grows organic food to serve its guests 15,000kg of produce per year, worth 48,000 USD.
- Virgin Atlantic has worked with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) to create the world’s first framework designed to address the sustainability challenges of inflight catering.
2. Using renewable energy