WTTC Debuts “Net Zero Roadmap” for Travel and Tourism Sector

As world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss concrete actions to solve the climate crises, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched its “Net Zero Roadmap” to guide the sector in its battle against the climate crisis. The roadmap was developed in collaboration with the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Accenture.

By providing milestones for meaningful climate action and emissions reduction for different industries within the sector, the “Net Zero Roadmap” sets out the challenges ahead and how the travel and tourism sector can decarbonize and reach net zero by 2050. While the report shows how the sector is greatly impacted by climate change as it affects destinations around the world (via rising sea levels, deforestation and the loss of animal and plant species), it also notes how it is responsible for an estimated 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The sector, therefore, has an important role to play in fighting climate change, which will require heightened ambitions and differentiated decarbonization approaches, as outlined in the roadmap.

According to the report, despite the progress already made across the industry, there still is room for scaling up climate action. To note: Of the 250 businesses analyzed, 42 percent have defined a climate target, and, of those, just 20 percent are aligned with the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) guidance. It adds that more alignment, transparency and continuity in emission monitoring is needed for both the sector as a whole and for individual businesses. Available information to date, the WTTC says, is insufficient in quality and reliability, thus impeding well-informed decision-making.

WTTC presents a new target framework with decarbonization corridors, which groups travel and tourism businesses into three clusters, depending on their emission profiles and the difficulty of abating their GHG emissions. These include Easy-, Medium- and Hard-to-Abate. The first group covers travel agencies and OTAs; the second, accommodations and in-destination activities, and the third, aviation and cruise.

The roadmap includes key decarbonization levers and corresponding actions for key industries of the sector: Accommodation, tour operators, aviation, cruise and tourism intermediaries such as online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch engines. Good to know: Certain industries, the WTTC says, may achieve net zero before 2050 if more ambitious targets are set and different decarbonization approaches are followed.

Acknowledging that different industries face different challenges to decarbonize, the roadmap calls on businesses to increase their ambitions where possible and provides detailed recommendations for five areas:

  1. Set baselines and emission targets now to achieve individual and sector goals
  2. Monitor and report progress regularly
  3. Collaborate within and across industries and government
  4. Provide finance and investment required for the transition
  5. Raise awareness and build knowledge and capabilities on climate change

This roadmap calls upon world leaders to give travel and tourism businesses the same level of support offered to other sectors and gives recommendations to governments on how they can support the sector—which, before the pandemic, represented 10.4 percent of the global GDP ($9.2 trillion)—in addressing climate challenges and its goals to achieve a net zero future.

The collaborative process included key organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Travalyst and SHA (Sustainable Hospitality Alliance), among others.

Visit www.wttc.org.

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