Already, tourism is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. However, transport-related emission from tourism will increase exponentially by 2030 — actually, 25 percent.
One would expect that the tourism industry would play a leading role in fighting global warming. Unfortunately, that really hasn’t been the case as the industry hasn’t developed any standards for reporting greenhouse gas emissions.
One group, however, is pushing for the industry to reduce its carbon emissions by half by 2030. Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, a coalition of individuals, companies and organizations that works to lead tourism entities to declare a climate emergency, is calling on the industry to seek solutions for more sustainable travel. The action plans to reach the goal are due out within twelve months by those who have already declared.
Roughly 290 declarations have been made thus far, according to Tourism Declare’s website. Not only are there many tour operators, destination marketing agencies, but professors as well as accommodation providers, and even restaurants that have declared. How did this idea come to be? Alex Naracott is the co-founder and CEO of Tourism Declares. He said that he was inspired by the crisis in climate change that he saw elsewhere.
Naracott stated, “It has never been clearer that we are in the middle of a climate-biodiversity emergency and it is also undoubtedly that any travel company regardless of their ethos is heavily implicated.”
His colleague Sam Bruce believes, as disastrous as Covid-forced lockdowns and restrictions have been for tourism worldwide, the travel industry has a golden opportunity to remake itself and help improve conditions for travelers and local communities. Naracott isn’t surprised that the industry doesn’t realize the importance it has in combating climate change. How can tourists be educated about climate change issues?
Naracott says awareness isn’t the issue. I believe the issue is ignorance of simple ways to lower emissions. This fear manifests in people not taking action or being accused of greenwashing.
We felt there was too much being done as an industry. “We needed an immediate, bold and unified response. We had to create momentum for action and that action needed to align with and coordinate around clearly defined goals.
The challenges involved in hitting the target
The ultimate goal of reducing carbon emissions by half is the most important. It is realistic to expect the tourism industry achieve this feat.
It isn’t, even in high-carbon sectors. However, the science is clear. Naracott stated that we don’t have the option of choosing.”
“In almost all areas of the tourist supply chain, including accommodation, transport, and food supply, there is significant carbon emissions. There are significant carbon emissions. We also have technology and solutions that can reduce emissions by more than half — it’s just a matter of implementing them.
Naracott acknowledges that it is difficult to reach the goal because aviation is responsible for only 3.5 percent in climate change emissions. It is also unlikely to play an important role in slowing down climate change. According to the United Nations, airplane carbon dioxide emissions will triple by 2050. Lauren Riley, United Airlines’ managing director for environmental affairs and sustainability, acknowledges that there is no easy solution.
British Airways is an example of a carrier that has a lot to do to improve sustainability in flying. Its owner, the International Airlines Group, had announced the carrier would offset all domestic flight emissions from 2020 while IAG would commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The parent company will certainly be busy with British Airways — a study named it Europe’s second biggest airline polluter in 2019 in addition to accounting for as much carbon dioxide as all roads in the United Kingdom.
Narcott stated that “the bottom line” is that we won’t achieve our minimum goal of (reducing emissions by half), but Narcott agreed.
Is there any evidence of progress in reducing emissions? Naracott is unable to provide any clear figures that would state one way or the other largely because of the aforementioned lack of a global standard in reporting emissions figures. He stated that we are guided otherwise by voluntary emissions reporting from declarees which should expect to see significant emission cuts over time.
It is still too soon to know. Our launch was in January 2020. Covid has obviously had a significant impact on results. Due to the differences in methods, reports from declares won’t necessarily be comparable. Therefore, a worldwide standard is needed.
While it is not clear how many coalition members have cut their emissions officially, Naracott feels that the declaration of these individuals is an important step towards ensuring a sustainable tourism emergency. He said that the declaration was not just another promise.
It is an affirmation of what the company has done to address the climate crisis, in accordance with current science and in action. Companies are required to submit a plan that outlines how they intend to reduce their carbon emissions within one year. Annual reports will be made transparently.
Climate plans: What are they?
The lion’s share of declarees haven’t submitted their climate actions plans — links to a little more than 60 appear on the Tourism Declares site. What have the parties who have already declared done?
Naracott stated that each action plan was unique, and tailored to the particular circumstances of the person who created it. As more action plans are submitted, Naracott said that “we are now in a position where we can begin to gather commonalities and case studies to help others develop their climate plans blueprints.”
Are these future plans actually practical? It remains to be determined. While entities that have developed a plan are listed on the Tourism Declares website, some of the plans — such as the one developed by travel agency Earth Changers and — are lacking in quantitative targets and include vague statements like “we commit to raising awareness of the climate crisis” and “we commit to highlight our involvement in Tourism Declares to to all our partners.”
On the other hand, U.K.-based tour operator Exodus Travels lists in detail the goals it’s set out in its climate plan, such as working to ensure that 90 percent of food served on its trips is locally sourced as well as other train trips to most European destinations by the end of this year.
These are positive goals that Naracott can be confident that tourism will play a leading role in reducing carbon emissions.
He said, “We shouldn’t be leaders.” Tourism has the potential to become an amazing force for good around the world. We as industry must take a leadership role in shaping our society’s future. One where tourism and travel are an unalienable net positive instead of the destructive indulgence that we may become.
Publié Mon, 30 August 2021 at 18:10:57 +0000