Tourism ‘failing to rise to climate challenge’

The consequences of climate change are likely to be worse than previously forecast even at lower levels of warming and the window in which to act and adapt is “rapidly closing”.

That is according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published at the end of February, which Abta director of industry relations Susan Deer referred to in opening the Delivering Sustainable Travel conference last week.

She noted: “The report made crystal clear the window of opportunity for action is closing.”
Deloitte director of sustainability Emily Cromwell told the conference: “We aren’t doing enough.
The impacts are going to be much more difficult to deter and adapt to. We’re really at a critical juncture. No matter where you are in the value chain or how large your organisation, collective action is mandatory to avert the worst impacts.”

She noted that from April, larger UK companies will have “a formal requirement to report on and address climate risks” and said: “I expect a cascading effect on all sizes of companies. Without making it seem too dire, we only have eight years left to take decisive action.”

Dirk Glaesser, UN World Tourism Organization director for the sustainable development of tourism, said: “We modelled what will happen with the current ambitions of the tourism sector [and] found a 25% increase in tourism emissions by 2030.

“We looked at the climate action plans of tourism actors and found only 28% have a plan or strategic vision. We found 22% can measure their emissions, [but] 74% don’t know how to measure.”

The IPCC report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, concluded: “Climate change risks to cities and key infrastructure will rise rapidly in the mid and long-term, especially in places already exposed to high temperatures, along coastlines or with high vulnerabilities.

“Any further delay in concerted global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity.”

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