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WTTC to produce global tourism carbon footprint data

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is to produce data showing the carbon impact of global tourism from next year.

Virginia Messina, senior vice president of advocacy and communications at the WTTC, confirmed the move at Travel Weekly’s Sustainability Summit this week.

She said reporting of rigorous data on the issue, which currently “doesn’t exist”, would give the industry a benchmark to improve upon in its challenge to move towards a more sustainable future.

Asked if currently reporting was “misty” or “vague”, Messina said a robust figure for the amount of carbon emissions the travel and tourism sector is responsible for “doesn’t exist”.

The WTTC, with the UN, launched a Roadmap to Net Zero earlier this month, in which it said “currently available estimates of travel and tourism emissions range from 8%-11% of global GHG emissions”. This, the report says, equates to 3.9 to 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions out of a total of 48.9 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019.

Messina told the Sustainability Summit: “People are quoting (the 8-11% figure) because we didn’t have a figure to quote.

“The biggest challenge is there is no methodology to tell us what our [carbon] footprint is that we can update over time.

“We are coming up with a figure looking at environmental indicators. We’re currently in the process of developing it.”

The WTTC already reports on the economic and social impact of tourism, and Messina confirmed: “Sustainability and carbon is going to be part of that from 2022.”

The WTTC hopes to have the first report ready by the time of its conference in the Philippines in 2022, she added.

Messina explained carbon reporting would initially include data from 40 countries, which will form the basis of a global estimate – and then the data will be widened out to 180 countries, in line with other WTTC reporting, in a secondary phase.

“At that point we hope we can produce reports, including on a country level,” she added.

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