Travel and tourism is lagging behind other sectors in addressing climate change and the industry will face rising taxes and regulation to cut its carbon footprint, according to a professor of sustainable aviation.
Professor Marc Ivaldi, research director of the Institute for Sustainable Aviation and the Toulouse School of Economics told the Evora ‘A World for Travel’ forum in Portugal: “I can’t say we are doing much.
“Except for electric trains there is not much sustainable transport. In the period 1990 to 2019, emissions from transport increased by 9% in France. Emissions from all other sectors decreased by 22%.”
Ivaldi warned: “The challenge is going to be worse in the future. Only 11% of the world takes a plane now. The trend is to increase CO2 emissions.”
He added: “The second point is there is a big difference between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor within a country. Only 1% of the population produces 50% of CO2 emissions from aviation.
“There is some good news. Electric cars start to be a success. In two or three years the number of electric cars in Europe and the US is going to be important
“But the transport sector is not making enough effort. Why? One, fuel is too cheap. Until it is not cheap, we won’t see innovation.
“Second, it needs a different policy. No one wants to hear about taxes, but taxes can create the conditions to change the price.
“Think about [the fact that] only 1% create the pollution in aviation. We could tax based on the real cost of climate change and redistribute the money to help decrease CO2 emissions [elsewhere].”
Michael Taride, advisor on mobility at investment bank Drake Star Partners and former group president of Hertz international agreed: “Tax is a major trigger to good or bad behaviour at individual and company levels. No one can challenge that. The point is what do we do with that [money]?
He told the forum: “A lot is going on, but it’s very slow.
“There is general awareness [of climate change], we have a revolution in technology and a lot of investment. Car makers are investing billions in electric vehicles (EVs). The challenge is we are required to work together.
“It’s complex and involves very many stakeholders. If regulation was moving at the pace of technology we would be in a different place.
“Regulation is important. Tax can drive behaviour, but we need the infrastructure.”
He added: “Electric vehicles are not completely clean. How do you recycle the batteries? There are a lot of issues.”
However, Amadeus group environmental officer Lucas Bobes told the forum: “If 89% of people don’t board an aircraft now is it because of sustainability considerations or because they can’t afford it?
“We need to prepare for a world in which seven billion fly.”
Ian Moore, chief operating officer of private jet charter company VistaJet, criticised the pace of transformation in aviation and the industry’s aim to be ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050.
He said: “Consumers are becoming more fixated on emissions. I don’t think the 2050 target will hold for very long. But the biggest stumbling block is the huge capital cost of aircraft.”