Tourism Roadmap To Net Zero

As COP26 heads to its conclusion with, hopefully, some meaningful and impactful agreements, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched its Net Zero Roadmap for the global industry.

Main picture solar panels credit Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

The roadmap was developed in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Accenture.

“I am delighted to announce our pioneering Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism. It helps travel industries reach individual targets to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many destinations are affected by the impacts of climate change with rising sea levels, deforestation and the loss of animal and plant species. Communities that rely on tourism are first in line to see the impact and want to do something about it.

“The Travel & Tourism sector is taking this opportunity to be a catalyst for change. We have a responsibility towards our people and planet.

“It is absolutely critical that the private and public sector work collectively to achieve the Paris Agreement and prevent the global rise in temperatures.

“Our sector can be part of the change that is urgently required to mitigate impacts and adapt to the threats posed by climate change.”

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO

The Roadmap, developed in close consultation with key representatives of the global Travel & Tourism sector, highlights the current status quo and provides ambitious industry milestones
for meaningful climate action and emissions reduction. It offers a realistic and pragmatic overview of the roadblocks and how we can decarbonise to achieve a net zero future and ultimately protect our beautiful world to help address the most pressing global challenge of our times.

Climate conversations and efforts in the Travel & Tourism sector reached a turning point in the last few years, with more and more governments, businesses, civil society organisations and destinations, setting clear, tangible and increasingly ambitious commitments, while
working to accelerate the shift towards a net zero future for the sector. This shift is important for several reasons:

  • Accounting for over 10% of global GDP and supporting more than one in ten jobs worldwide in 2019, the Travel & Tourism sector has been a key global driver of economic prosperity and employment opportunities for decades. In many countries around the world, tourism presents one of the most important sources of economic income. What’s more, given the extent and complexity of the Travel & Tourism value chain and its strong interlinkages with other industries, the sector has both a responsibility and significant potential to be a catalyst for profound system change
  • While the expected return to growth of the sector in the aftermath of COVID-19 will require an even greater acceleration of decarbonisation and other mitigation efforts, Travel & Tourism will also have to adapt to and prepare for the unavoidable, negative effects of climate change that have already been impacting the sector worldwide. These impacts include extreme weather events, coastal erosion, biodiversity loss, destruction of infrastructure and property, disruption to cultural and natural heritage, as well as increasing stress on basic natural resources, among others – all of which are essential to safeguard the health of both hosts and guests, and thus the competitiveness of tourism overall.
  • Tourism demand is sensitive to negative economic, environmental, and social impacts, resulting in tourism-dependent businesses, communities, livelihoods being increasingly vulnerable to the threat of climate change. In this context, it is essential that the Travel & Tourism sector intensifies its efforts to fight climate change by exploring all available pathways towards net zero with strong, tangible commitments and actions that accelerate change within and beyond the sector’s boundaries. Both business climate commitments and cross-sectoral Travel & Tourism initiatives that bring together a wide variety of tourism stakeholders and aim to translate signature commitments into real actions will be key. Current joint efforts in Travel & Tourism include Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action for Tourism, while at an individual business level, as of October 2021, a total of 34 Travel & Tourism businesses joined the SBTi (of which 38% are WTTC members) and 39 businesses are officially in the Race to Zero (of which 18% are WTTC members).
WTTC Net Zero Roadmap

The reports identifies the Emission Profiles of different sectors within the industry, the progress made so far, climate targets for each sector, key challenges facing the industry, a decarbonisation action framework and decarbonisation levers for each sector.

Call To Action

Given that higher ambition targets and differentiated decarbonisation approaches can lead to achieving net zero in many areas of the Travel & Tourism sector even before 2050, we therefore call on businesses to increase their ambitions where possible.

1. Set the right baselines and emission targets now to achieve individual & sector goals.

For all Travel & Tourism businesses:

  • Where possible, halve emissions by 2030. It is recognised that not all industries may be able to achieve this, but ambitions should be set as high as feasible.
  • Join important sector-wide initiatives that include accountability mechanisms and help with clear guidance, such as the Race to Zero Campaign, the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, and Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency.
  • Create climate action plans now that help guide the implementation of activities required to achieve targets, which are regularly reviewed and adapted, if needed.
  • Strive for a complete net zero future for the sector by 2050.

For all Travel & Tourism businesses that do not have defined climate targets yet:

  • Start the target definition process and ensure that targets are science-based and aligned with relevant national and international policies and strategies.
  • Set ambitions as high as possible, in alignment with corridor aspirations, yet keep them feasible.
  • Gather data to establish required baselines to track progress over time.

For all Travel & Tourism businesses that already have baselines and a set target, but not science-based:

  • Review and update your targets so they are science-based, building on the aspirations of the decarbonisationtarget corridor that correspond most to each individual business model.
  • Revise your targets and decarbonisation approaches regularly and finetune them regularly.

2. Monitor and report progress

  • Share your defined climate targets with the public.
  • Define emission boundaries for all three scopes and monitor them as accurately and regularly as possible.
  • Share your monitoring results and progress on a regular basis, ideally, annually, with the public.
  • Share your lessons learned and best practices with the Travel & Tourism community.

3. Collaborate within and across industries

  • Join and regularly participate in industry alliances and networks to share and learn from others’ climate actions and experiences and stay up to date with latest developments.
  • Engage especially in methodological dialogues to ensure alignment in monitoring approaches and drive standardised frameworks for reporting.
  • Support other Travel & Tourism businesses that are not as far advanced, in particular SMEs, and learn from those that are.
  • Encourage and support the integration of Travel & Tourism into local/regional/national climate plans and strive for alignment with them.

4. Provide finance and investment required for the transition

  • Understand your financial needs to achieve your climate targets.
  • While one or the other may be the focus, invest in both mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • Adopt more extensive carbon pricing mechanisms to help steer climate-conscious purchase behavior.
  • Invest in and support low-emissions solutions, circularity, Nature-based Solutions etc. within the business and along the value chain.
  • Advocate for more government and regulatory support for Travel & Tourism businesses, including SMEs, to strengthen investment-friendly environment for climate action. This includes campaigning for financial incentives to industries where decarbonisation represents major costs.

5. Raise awareness and build capacities on climate

  • Invest in human capital through sustainability training and development.
  • Prioritise building climate expertise in-house but also recognise when external support is needed.
  • Advocate, where needed, to move climate action and sustainability on top of the business priority list. Appoint a CSO (ideally at the c-level) and establish dedicated sustainability teams where needed.
  • Make sustainable options the default for customers with an option to opt-out, instead of opting-in.
  • Set up accountability mechanisms for change within the business so that climate commitments and activities endure potential future system changes (e.g. merger & acquisition or change of leadership).

Source: WTCC Net Zero Roadmap

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