New report reveals commitment to 50% carbon reduction for tourism companies

Carbon reductions on track for 2035

Carbon reductions on track for 2035

A new report published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals that many of the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism companies are on course to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2035.

Travel & Tourism 2015; Connecting Global Climate Action” shows members of the industry have generally improved their carbon efficiency by 20% in the last ten years and outlines the preparedness of the sector for climate change alleviation measures. It demonstrates the progress that has been made by the world’s leading airlines, airports, hotels, cruise lines, car rental companies and technology companies in the last decade.

Headlines from the report reveal that the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism companies, as represented by the Members of WTTC, are:

  • 20% more carbon efficient today than they were in 2005
  • On course to cut CO2 emissions by 50% from 2005 to 2035
  • On course to reach the target of 25% reduction by 2020

The report follows up on the 2009 publication “Leading the Challenge on Climate Change”, which identified key themes and action areas required to meet the target of reducing 2035 carbon emissions by 50% based on 2005 levels. In the run up to the COP21 climate change talks in Paris, WTTC has reviewed progress against these themes to determine how the sector can build on this progress to respond effectively to the challenges of the future.

David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said, “In 2015, travel and tourism is forecast to contribute almost 10% of world GDP and 1 in 11 of all jobs on the planet. The strength of the sector is due to continue for the next decade at almost 4% per annum. With such robust growth, travel and tourism’s relationship to climate change becomes critical.

“Much has changed in the six years since we published “Leading the Challenge on Climate Change” to support the global climate talks backing international agreements. While the sector has grown, added more jobs and contributed billions of dollars to economies all over the world, we have seen real commitment to sustainability from business as companies innovate and collaborate with others to reduce their overall impacts. WTTC Members are investing heavily in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, are protecting valuable ecosystems and have been building awareness of their actions among stakeholders and customers. The majority of WTTC Members are publicly disclosing their efforts through various means of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting.

“Per passenger, per room, per rental, per transaction, and per unit of revenue, we now serve global travellers 20% more efficiently than in 2005, and are contributing to our goal of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035.”

The report outlines the initiatives and progress made to date which have reduced carbon emissions to the point where WTTC Member companies are 20% less carbon-intense now than they were in 2005, closely approaching the interim target of 25% intensity reduction in 2020 set in 2009. The progress in reducing carbon intensity can be attributed to several actions across each of the themes identified in 2009:

  1. Accountability and Responsibility. The sector has made strong progress against this theme, particularly in admitting to the challenge of tackling climate change and setting out plans to address and measure it.  Various methodologies for calculating and measuring carbon usage have been developed and more and more companies are engaging with global frameworks for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting such as GRI and CDP.
  2. Local community sustainable growth and capacity building. WTTC members actively demonstrate on-the-ground action in the form of community engagement, charitable contributions, disaster relief, or conservation efforts. Several WTTC Member programmes address deforestation in particular, while others focus on wider biodiversity protection such as preserving coral reefs, hosting bee colonies on rooftops, managing waste, or ensuring sustainable sourcing.
  3. Educating customers and stakeholders. Most travel and tourism companies now have branded sustainability programmes, and these often include customer engagement programmes.
  4. Greening supply chains. Most WTTC members now have formidable supplier screening and supply chain engagement programmes and have developed practical tools to help procurement from local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of this.
  5. Innovation, capital investment and infrastructure. Similar to ESG reporting being the primary step towards accountability and responsibility now, so were the use of operational environmental management systems and green certification schemes our focus in 2009. Most WTTC Member companies have achieved green certification of some type.

The report also outlines the five priority areas to support the overall target of halving emissions by 2035:

  1. Integrating Climate Change and related issues into Business Strategy by disclosing climate change issues in mainstream financial reporting, utilising recognised frameworks and collaborating to harmonise the approach for disclosure within our industries. Commitments will stem from securing leadership from board governance and senior executives.
  2. Supporting the Global Transition to a Low Carbon Economy by joining in the leading practice of establishing an internal price of carbon, focusing on renewables for new investments, seeking low carbon financing mechanisms, contributing to local economies with carbon mitigation, and catalysing the economies of scale to create a virtuous circle.
  3. Strengthening Local Resilience by recognising the value that local natural and cultural heritage has for travel and tourism, enhancing the assessment of our operations and forging partnerships to build resilience against climate risks, reducing local drivers of climate change.
  4. Promoting the Value of Responsible Travel by giving travellers the tools to be responsible travellers, encouraging participation in our initiatives, and offering new experiences tied directly to low carbon solutions. We will extend these tools to our business travellers who play an integral role in increasing ESG information from travel and tourism companies.
  5. Engaging Across the Value Chain by focusing efforts on the biggest opportunities found across the entire value chain to reduce carbon emissions through mechanisms such as supplier screening and local procurement. Furthermore, travel and tourism is in a unique position to build consumer awareness of the world’s key supply chain threats by engaging travellers to link the destinations they visit with the issues back home in their own purchasing decisions as consumers and professionals.

Scowsill said, “The next 20 years will be characterised by our sector fully integrating climate change and related issues into business strategy, supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy, strengthening resilience at a local level against climate risks, promoting the value of responsible travel, and greening entire supply chains.

“To reach these long term goals, much still needs to be done across travel and tourism and other sectors, but we now have a common understanding and are ever-closer to agreement on the global actions necessary.”

Hoteliers who are interested in reducing their carbon emissions can begin by measuring with the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) tool which is a free and universally recognised method for measuring carbon output by room or meeting. Developed by ITP in partnership with the WTTC it is now used by over 21000 hotels globally to measure and reduce their carbon outputs.


Leave a Reply