The boss of Jet2 has called for more pressure to be put on governments worldwide to develop environmentally-friendly technology.
During a Travel Weekly Future of Travel conference debate on sustainable tourism, Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, claimed it was up to governments to address the root causes of climate change in light of the race against time to meet targets of decarbonising aviation by 15% by 2030 and making the industry net zero by 2050.
A panel of experts discussing sustainability outlined the urgency of the climate crisis and urged travel companies to do whatever they could to have a positive impact on the environment.
But Heapy, who was not on the panel, stressed progress could not be made unless there was more action by governments around the world.
He said: “I admire what you guys are doing but everyone needs to put pressure on governments. They need to invest in the technology and without that it will not work.
“Governments have proved they can come together in record time to produce a vaccine. We have to get them to develop technology. We need more technical solutions in place; it’s governments that can solve this.”
He said other industries also needed to have “pressure put on them” such as the farming sector to help reduce carbon emissions.
Intrepid Group managing director EMEA Zina Bencheikh agreed the responsibility for change should not fall to the travel industry alone.
She said: “It falls to every one of us but it also needs to come from government. The government should support the industry. We don’t want travel to become something not available to the masses.”
“It is the responsibility of all industries to understand carbon offsetting,” she added.
But Thomas Power, chief executive of tour operator Pura Aventura, said his view was to take any action possible “whatever tiny impact” it may have.
Global warming is predicted to surpass 1.5C and cause the irreversible loss of fragile ecosystems unless urgent action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Responsible Travel customer director Tim Williamson said the environmental agenda should be the priority for travel companies, particularly as surveys were now indicating the importance of the issue to customers.
“We have eight and a half years to get global heating under control. The travel industry has a big part to play,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about changing their travel habits because they understand more now about the role travel has in heating the planet.”
Power agreed, warning: “Don’t be trapped into thinking it’s 2040, not 2030.”