‘Higher ambition’ on emissions needed from travel industry and governments

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) have called on industry players to act urgently to reduce emissions, warning that “very little” has been done to date.

Dirk Glaesser, UNWTO director for the sustainable development of tourism, reported travel and tourism emissions “will increase by 25% by 2030” compared with 2016 and called for “higher ambition” from the industry and governments.

Speaking on an Abta Decarbonising Tourism webinar, Glaesser said: “We analysed more than 100 government tourism policies and 100% spoke about sustainability, but only 42% of committing resources and only 27% had real instruments for calculating emissions.

“So far this has been talked about, but very little has been implemented.

“Still the dominant form of monitoring is of the economic impact of tourism. What is shocking is only one in 10 national tourism associations were bringing information on the wider impact of tourism to the attention of stakeholders.”

The UNWTO also surveyed more than 1,100 travel and tourism organisations and found “only 28% have a climate action plan. Only 27% measure emissions related to tourism.”

Glaesser argued: “You need to start to measure. If you don’t you won’t be able to guide your efforts and monitor your progress.”

Speaking on the same webinar, WTTC director of sustainability Christopher Imbsen said: “Climate targets vary enormously. Of the businesses we analysed, 42% had targets but only 20% were science based. Targets differ on baselines. There is huge variety in how they are measured. Inconsistent reporting and measurement is not helpful. There is a clear need for more transparency.

“We call on businesses to set baselines and targets now. Make these as ambitious as possible and align with industry targets. Support your partners and supply chains, especially SMEs. Provide investment and finance for transition, and raise awareness in organisations and in nudging customers.”

The WTTC launched a Net Zero Roadmap for travel by 2050 last week which includes targets businesses should aim for.

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