People, Travel

Industry on Track to Meet Reduction Targets

Industry on Track to  Meet Reduction TargetsIndustry on Track to  Meet Reduction Targets

Many of the world’s largest travel and tourism companies are on course to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2035, according to a major new report released on Thursday.

This follows businesses in the sector improving their carbon efficiency by 20% in the last decade, the World Travel and Tourism Council said.

Council members are aiming to reach a target of 25% reduction by 2020 ahead of the wider cut 15 years later.

WTTC president and chief executive, David Scowsill, said: “To reach these long-term goals, much still needs to be done across travel and tourism and other sectors, but we now have a common understanding and are ever-closer to agreement on the global actions necessary.”

The report attributed the industry’s progress to date to improvements in five key areas.

1) Improved accountability – the sector has developed new ways of tracking carbon and started engaging with global reporting frameworks like Carbon Disclosure Project.

2) Work on the ground – WTTC members are involved in on-the-ground action in the form of community engagement, charitable contributions, disaster relief, or conservation efforts. Several WTTC member programs address deforestation in particular, while others focus on wider biodiversity protection such as preserving coral reefs, hosting bee colonies on rooftops, managing waste, or ensuring sustainable sourcing.

3) Education and engagement – most travel and tourism companies now have branded sustainability programs, and these often include customer engagement programs

4) Greening supply chains – most WTTC members now have formidable supplier screening and supply chain engagement programs and have developed practical tools to help procurement from local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of this

5) Certification – most WTTC member companies have achieved green certification of some type.

  Priority Areas

To support the overall target of halving emissions by 2035, five priority areas are identified in the reports.

- Integrating climate change and related issues into business strategy by disclosing climate change issues in mainstream financial reporting, utilizing recognized frameworks and collaborating to harmonize the approach for disclosure within our industries. Commitments will stem from securing leadership from board governance and senior executives.

- Supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy by joining in the leading practice of establishing an internal price of carbon, focusing on renewables for new investments, seeking low carbon financing mechanisms, contributing to local economies with carbon mitigation, and catalyzing the economies of scale to create a virtuous circle.

- Strengthening local resilience by recognizing the value that local natural and cultural heritage has for travel and tourism, enhancing the assessment of operations and forging partnerships to build resilience against climate risks, reducing local drivers of climate change.

- Promoting the value of responsible travel by giving people the tools to be responsible travelers, encouraging participation in WTTC initiatives, and offering new experiences tied directly to low carbon solutions.

- Engaging across the value chain by focusing efforts on the biggest opportunities found across the entire value chain to reduce carbon emissions through mechanisms such as supplier screening and local procurement. Travel and tourism is in a “unique position” to build consumer awareness of the world’s key supply chain threats by engaging travelers to link the destinations they visit with the issues back home in their own purchasing decisions.

  Green Growth

In 2015, travel and tourism is forecast to contribute almost 10% of world GDP and one in 11 of all jobs on the planet. The strength of the sector is due to continue for the next decade at almost 4% per annum.

With such robust growth, travel and tourism’s relationship to climate change becomes critical.

“While the sector has grown, added more jobs and contributed billions of dollars to economies all over the world, we have seen real commitment to sustainability from business as companies innovate and collaborate with others to reduce their overall impacts,” Scowsill said.

The report said WTTC members are investing heavily in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, which are helping to protect valuable ecosystems and have been building awareness of their actions among stakeholders and customers.

The report also claims that the majority of WTTC members are publicly disclosing their efforts through various means of environmental, social and governance reporting.

“Per passenger, per room, per rental, per transaction, and per unit of revenue, we now serve global travelers 20% more efficiently than in 2005 and are contributing to our goal of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035,” Scowsill said.

“The next 20 years will be characterized by our sector fully integrating climate change and related issues into business strategy, supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy, strengthening resilience at a local level against climate risks, promoting the value of responsible travel, and greening entire supply chains.”