A target for the travel and tourism sector to be climate neutral by 2050 was outlined at the COP 25 UN climate change conference in Madrid on Tuesday.

The World Travel & Tourism Council reiterated its commitment through a climate and environment action plan.

The initiative involves setting science-based targets, energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and initiatives to reduce the use of plastics, food waste and other items.

A sustainable travel and tourism partner scheme is being created to recognise companies that are taking action to combat climate change.

Industry best practices will be shared via a sustainability knowledge hub.

Travel and tourism is responsible for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, it supports one in ten jobs around the world and contributes 10.4% of global GDP, according to the WTTC.

Members taking action with sustainable business practices include arriott committing to end single use plastic toiletries by 2020 and Intrepid Travel Group committing to be the first climate positive travel company by 2020.

WTTC president and CEO Guevara said: “We are excited to be moving forward with our climate and environment action plan. As the leaders within the travel and tourism industry we have the power to drive real change and are committed to this issue.

“Many of our members are already champions in sustainable business practice, and WTTC has the opportunity to convene the industry so we can move faster, contribute, and address the significant environmental and sustainability challenges facing our world.”

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change global climate action secretariat manager Niclas Svenningsen added: “Travelling and getting together are inherently positive activities that create the foundations for a globally peaceful and sustainable world. In addition, this wide sector also contributes significant numbers of jobs and income, and enables education, health and other services in otherwise disadvantaged communities.

“Notwithstanding that, this sector, like almost all other sectors in society, also has a significant climate footprint.

“However, as unrealistic it would be to stop eating, stop washing clothes or stop using energy, it would be to stop travelling.

“The solution is instead in finding ways of doing this in more climate-friendly ways, so that the benefits from travel can be achieved without negatively impact the climate.

“We hope that this collaboration with WTTC and its members will help speed up such a transformation in the sector.”