The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are calling on the travel and tourism sector to be climate-neutral by 2050. The two organizations made the announcement at their first-ever Climate and Environment Action Forum, which brought together over 50 CEOs, heads of state, ministers and industry leaders at New York Climate Week.
The event included the announcement of an action plan called 0SCARS to encourage its members — leaders from a sector that spans airports, airlines, hotels, GDS, tourism boards, travel, technology and cruise companies — to adopt and accelerate sustainability programs and to share best practices.
The framework for 0SCARS is as follows:
- 0 [Zero] – WTTC has called on the sector to be climate neutral by 2050. WTTC will work with the UNFCCC to set a framework for the decarbonization of the global travel and tourism sector.
- S [Support] – Support the travel and tourism sector in developing ambitious climate strategies, such as setting science-based targets, and in reducing the impact of current activities, products and services by continuously using resources in more efficient ways. The two organizations said that they will also work to support energy efficiency measures, renewable energy, and waste reduction, both within companies and with governments to develop incentives to invest in nature-based solutions.
- C [Change] – Develop or share research and evidence for how travel and tourism companies can reduce actual emissions and invest in emission reduction schemes in projects through the UNFCCC or equivalent recognized mechanisms.
- A [Act] – WTTC and its members will:
- Identify and implement new sustainability strategies and innovative business models.
- Seek to align sustainable development efforts with the UN SDGs.
- Commit to prioritize sustainability by setting ambitious, time-bound sustainability targets.
- Collaborate and share data and best practices to improve sustainability.
- Engage consumers in efforts to make travel more sustainable.
- WTTC will produce an annual report of action that will articulate and show demonstrable movement towards climate-friendly travel and progress towards sustainability commitments.
- R [Recognition] – Through the Sustainable WTTC Travel & Tourism Partners, WTTC will invite all companies, large and small, to sign up for the program so that they can be recognized for their commitments and progress towards sector sustainability.
- S [Share] –WTTC will launch a Sustainable Travel & Tourism Hub which will fuel research, drive best practice sharing, and foster collaboration with key partners, including the UNFCCC and UNEP and other experts, to find climate solutions that are applicable across the sector.
Gloria Guevara, president and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council, called the new program a culmination of nearly two years of work, building on a partnership with the UNFCCC to accelerate towards climate neutrality for a sector that has climate and environment action as a top priority.
“As the leaders within the travel and tourism industry, we have the power to drive real change,” said Guevara. “The 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.”
From a consumer standpoint, 0SCARS aims to help travelers recognize, with a simple and visible stamp in the form of a turtle, the suppliers with sustainable practices.
Within a year, the WTTC plans to establish this identifier and, with the involvement of experts, members, the UNFCCC and the UNEP, will create future higher levels, based on performance.