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World Travel and Tourism Council calls for Climate Neutrality by 2050

World Travel and Tourism Council calls for Climate Neutrality by 2050
December 4, 2019

Following a successful Climate Action event focused on the global tourism industry during the recent UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has reiterated its commitment in the global fight against climate change through its Climate & Environment Action Plan: S0AR.

The initiative sets an ambition for the global tourism industry to be climate neutral by 2050 and will set science-based targets, energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and initiatives to reduce the use of plastics, food waste and others. WTTC has also spearheaded the creation of a Sustainable Travel & Tourism Partner program, to recognise companies that are taking action on this area and will share industry best practices via a Sustainability Knowledge Hub.

Representing the private sector across the global tourism industry, WTTC is calling for a commitment to sector-wide Climate Neutrality by 2050.

WTTC highlights that tourism supports one in 10 jobs around the world and contributes 10.4% of global GDP. However, it is also responsible for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which underpins WTTC’s commitment to unify the sector in order to move faster to make tourism part of the solution.

The event represents the second time that the tourism industry was formally represented during the COP meetings, and reflects the strong partnership that has developed between WTTC and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since signing a Common Agenda during the WTTC Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina in April 2018. As part of its commitment to promoting sustainability within the sector, WTTC hosted the first global Climate & Environment Action Forum during UN Climate Week this September in New York City, as well as a Leadership Forum on Sustainability in Travel & Tourism at Harvard University last month.

The event was opened by Gloria Guevara, President & Chief Executive, WTTC, and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, and was followed by a keynote address by  Dr. Carmelo J. León, reiterating the importance of the tourism industry for the economy, general well-being of the Canary Islands and more importantly how climate change is affecting and threatening them.

This was followed by presentations and discussions on leading by example through sustainable business practices that will move the sector to climate neutrality by 2050. Participants discussed what is being done and what is still needed. For example, many WTTC Members have already taken great strides in sustainable business practices, with Marriott committing to end single use plastic toiletries by 2020, and Intrepid Travel Group committing to be the first climate positive travel company by 2020 amongst many others.

Guevara noted “We are excited to be moving forward with our Climate & Environment Action Plan (S0AR), as the leaders within the travel and tourism industry, we have the power to drive real change and are committed to this issue. Many of our Members are already champions in sustainable business practice, and WTTC has the opportunity to convene the industry so we can move faster, contribute, and address the significant environmental and sustainability challenges facing our world.”

Niclas Svenningsen, Manager, Global Climate Action for the UNFCCC Secretariat added “travelling and getting together are inherently positive activities that create the foundations for a globally peaceful and sustainable world. In addition, this wide sector also contributes significant numbers of jobs and income, and enables education, health and other services in otherwise disadvantaged communities.

“Notwithstanding that, this sector, like almost all other sectors in society, also has a significant climate footprint. However, as unrealistic it would be to stop eating, stop washing clothes or stop using energy, it would be to stop travelling. The solution is instead in finding ways of doing this in more climate-friendly ways, so that the benefits from travel can be achieved without negatively impact the climate. We hope that this collaboration with WTTC and its members will help speed up such a transformation in the sector.”

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