Climate crisis: Tourism sector both a contributor and a victim

Author
Sarah Pollok, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 3:31PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Climate crisis: Tourism sector both a contributor and a victim

Author
Sarah Pollok, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 3:31PM

Leaders around the world have gathered in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss tactics for tackling the climate crisis. Amongst them, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled a Net Zero Roadmap. 

Developed in collaboration with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Accenture, the Net Zero Roadmap is intended be a global guide to help the tourism sector reach net zero by 2050. 

 After describing the current industry's future challenges, the report goes on to provide concrete targets and recommendations that can help tourism businesses take meaningful climate action. 

 Something UNFCCC secretary-general, Patricia Espinosa said was crucial for real results. 

"We are at a decisive moment that requires that such commitments are backed by concrete plans and immediate action, driving a systemic change to tackle the climate crisis," Espinosa wrote in the report's foreword. 

 From rising sea levels to deforestation, the impact of climate change on destinations means the tourism sector isn't just a contributor to the climate crisis but a victim too. As a result, UNEP executive director Inger Anderson said the industry had a 'big stake' in the solution. 

 Since different industries face different challenges regarding decarbonisation, the Net Zero Roadmap identifies primary decarbonisation levers and consequent actions for five of the sector's key industries; accommodation, tour operators, aviation, cruise and tourism intermediaries. 

 The document then provides detailed recommendations for the following 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 

 Responsibility doesn't just fall on the industry itself; the document also challenges world leaders with recommendations on how they can better support the sector. 

The 'continuous' absence of government support, combined with insufficient regulatory incentives provides obstacles for the industry, said the report.

Suggestions for the government included prioritising sustainable infrastructure, providing financial support, assisting business transition through training and upskilling.