November 2022 | ETOA members offered free online training, see SUSTOUR Accelerator Carbon Management Training below.

September 2022 | TerraVerde offers ETOA members special deal to support their climate action (offer open until November 18th)

February 2022 | ETOA publishes its Climate Action Plan


Effective action on climate action is a precondition for long-term economic success. New economic models and issues of inter-generational fairness are now part of mainstream debate. Added to science-based urgency is pressure from consumers, clients and finance. The importance of environmental, social and governmental (ESG) criteria to commercial investors is growing.

Europe needs tourism as a job-generator for its long-term economic and social success. Travel and tourism contribute c.8% of global carbon emissions, and that figure is growing. While European public sector tourism bodies may prioritise value over volume, tourism continues to grow, not least because more people can afford to travel.

For tourism to thrive in 2030 and beyond, advocacy and action is needed to mitigate negative impacts on climate and maximise the benefit we can bring. Climate-friendly tourism is possible. ETOA joins those who support its rapid development.

ETOA priorities

  • Encourage planning and action in line with IPCC-based carbon emissions goals
  • Ensure travel and tourism are part of the solution as climate policy develops
  • Promote access to good practice, expertise and support to enable transition

What we are Doing

  • Building partnerships and resources to support the growth of good practice
  • Advocacy and debate in support of tourism’s long-term positive impact
  • Implement climate action plan to manage our own environmental footprint

ETOA Declares a Climate Emergency

Full statement here

SUSTOUR Accelerator Carbon Management Training

SUSTOUR is an EU-funded programme supporting tourism SMEs in their transition to sustainable practice, and ETOA supports its outreach effort. It has recently launched a carbon management module, and ETOA members are offered free online training. For more information about its carbon management programme, click here. For inquiries about the training, click here.

This expert-led training is offered in three-hour online training sessions in November 2022 which cover different aspects of the topic. These are free of charge to ETOA members.

For more information about the three sessions, click here. You must register for each one you wish to attend.

14 November 2022, 14:00 – 17:00 CET

17 November 2022, 14:00 – 17:00 CET

22 November 2022, 14:00 – 17:00 CET


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Current Activity

In December 2020, ETOA formally declared a climate emergency and subsequently published a climate action plan. We have offer vegetarian-only menus at our in-person commercial events. We track event carbon footprint including a provision for delegate travel, and measure our in-house footprint. Following the IPCC report in August 2021, ETOA issued a statement on tourism and climate policy.

Through our pan-European network supported the outreach to SMEs of an EU-funded sustainability project SUSTOUR, helping them far exceed their target of 175 SMEs (over 600 are participating). We advocate a carbon-focused module for SMEs who wish to prioritise on that aspect of sustainability as opposed to engage in full-spectrum metrics. More news on that is expected before the end of 2022.

We are members of working group on capacity building to support implementation of the Glasgow Declaration in collaboration with UNWTO One Planet initiative. We also participate in the UNWTO working group of experts on measuring the sustainability of tourism. We are open to dialogue with any organisation offering to help the industry measure its emissions, reducing them where possible, mitigating where not.

ETOA Spotlight on Policy: TerraVerde Solutions


While there is general awareness that a transition to sustainable practice and product is necessary, given current pressures and priorities, are companies finding time to focus on carbon reduction?

To explore the business case for action, ETOA caught up with Patrick Richards, Founder Director of TerraVerde, to get his perspectives on cost-saving and marketing opportunities.

Climate and tourism

ETOA represents businesses dependent on long-haul travel to Europe as well as intra-European. The dramatic decline in aviation volume during the COVID-19 pandemic focused attention on domestic and proximity tourism but distracted from the long-term growth trend. While engineering advances and capacity optimisation will decrease emissions per passenger kilometre, overall emissions are rising.

The European Union’s Fit-for-55 package aims to deliver 55% emissions reduction by 2030. The European Commission’s Tourism Transition Pathway, published in February 2022, identifies 27 topics for action (see Appendix 1). Tthe implementation of all should consider three priorities according to the Commission: “the green transition (environmental sustainability and climate neutrality); the digital transition; the move to a greater resilience.” Building sectoral resilience requires strategic investment and support for sustainable practice.

There will be public and private sector responses. International aviation emissions are included in EU climate goals. Product and demand will evolve. Clients increasingly require carbon-footprint information. Some may travel less but stay longer. For aviation-dependent destinations, especially islands, how to mitigate impact once on land becomes an ever more pressing concern. With remote working now widely accepted, relocating for a longer period may become more practical and appealing. Group tourism is showing a shift to smaller, more in-depth itineraries.

The decline in collective transport such as private coaches and public transport during the Covid-19 pandemic was a step backwards environmentally: the modern coach fleet is highly efficient and meets low emission standards. Some public transport is already carbon neutral, but train travel still presents obstacles for multi-country travel that needs to be booked well in advance. The transformation brought about by ‘open skies’ and low-cost airlines is not yet matched on land. ETOA works with partners such as TopRail to address these issues.

Law and labels

Climate law already exists, and more is coming. It will affect all aspects of tourism. The idea of a carbon border formed part of EU Green Deal consultation: how should the bloc protect its manufacturers from imports produced to low environmental standards?

It is reasonable to expect that an industry based on discretionary spend will have to provide its consumers more information about product sustainability. Since the beginning of 2019, anyone wishing to export certain products to the EU must ensure they are centrally registered and carry an energy label (more information here). While this is now mandatory it is also increasingly normal: consumers want to know the energy cost and efficiency of what they buy.

Initially, regulators did not ban low-efficiency products, but made them conspicuous in comparison: this is happening with tourism. Consumer comparison for travel products may primarily be driven by cost, but other criteria affect choice: ‘values-based’ spending decisions. Many air and rail ticket platforms provide carbon emission data per selected journey and offer mitigation options such as carbon offsets, whose benefits vary according to provider and scheme selected.

For tourism services more generally, the multiplicity of ‘eco’ labels can be confusing, covering a range of issues from food to water and energy efficiency. If a consumer or business client want to find out the carbon cost of their decisions, and make comparisons, what information will suppliers and operators provide? Marketing campaigns making environmental claims are attracting increased attention, with EU consumer law being used to challenge a European airline.

Emissions reduction

What will mass mobility look like in a carbon neutral 2050? How will service providers have adapted?  Carbon emissions reduction targets were the central outcome of the Paris Agreement in 2015. It is their adoption by legislators and consequent regulation which will shape the business environment for the foreseeable future. According to the UN, global CO2 emission have increased by almost 50% since 1990. In this section we review multinational and national emissions reduction ambitions and targets.

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding treaty adopted by 196 parties to the COP21. It set the goal of limiting global warming to within 2 degrees centigrade, and preferably no higher than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

For further information on the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) click here.

Goal 13 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is Climate Action, and progress towards many of the other SDGs will be impacted by climate action.

UNWTO modelling on the impact of the tourism-related carbon emissions in the transport sector to 2030 is here.

The EU has committed to ambitious climate action. It was already on course to meet its climate reduction targets for 2020 (20% below 1990 levels by 2020) before the Covid-19 pandemic.

In September 2020, as part of the EU Green Deal it announced a revised ambition to meet the IPCC-recommended 55% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

The 55% by 2030 goal was formally endorsed by the European Council on 11 December (see p5 Section III of conclusion of European Council meeting 10-11 December 2020 here, which directs the Commission and Parliament to ensure proposed climate law is amended accordingly).

A 55% reduction was also recommended in November 2019 by the European Parliament when it formally declared a climate emergency.

On 04 December 2020, the UK announced ambitious targets, a 68% cut in carbon emissions by 2030.

In partnership with Italy, the UK will organise COP26 from 01 – 12 November 2021. Scotland, one of the devolved administrations of the UK, will host COP26 in Glasgow, has set targets of net zero by 2045, 90% reduction by 2040, and 75% by 2030.


ETOA Climate Action Partners

Compete or collaborate? Competition is important to maintain quality and choice, but concerted climate action is necessary in order that tourism may maintain a safe space within which to operate. Smart partnership allows ETOA to deliver better support to its members, accessing expertise and good practice resources including products and services that may suit their climate plans.

ETOA’s interest in Fair Climate Fund (FCF) arose from its research into carbon finance model: why is there such a price range for carbon credits or ‘offsets’? The concepts of ‘additionality’, the degree to which carbon offsets fund action with positive impact that would not otherwise have occurred is central to this question. Where there is no practical alternative to aviation, offsetting is likely to form part of an individual or corporate plan to mitigate negative impact.

FCF presentation given during ETOA ‘Carbon Curious?’ webinar on 22 October 2020 available here.

FCF 2021 four-step plan for organisations to reduce their carbon footprint available here.

“A Fair Climate policy focuses on reducing global carbon emissions and reducing global inequality at the same time. We’re looking forward to working with the ETOA community as they develop their plans.”

Gert Crielaard, Fund Manager, Fair Climate Fund

ETOA’s decision to join industry leaders and other stakeholders in the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency initiative was a public commitment to support the transition to sustainable tourism. For full statement, click here. 16dec20 statement]

“With the EU's recent commitment to a 55% reduction in emissions across the continent by 2030, we are delighted to welcome this declaration from such an influential European voice as ETOA,`` says Tourism Declares' Co-Founder, Jeremy Smith. ``Their partnership can help hugely as we continue developing our work with destinations and the private sector in the months leading up to COP26. Likewise, we look forward to supporting ETOA and their over 1,100 members in delivering on Europe's commitments and their respective Climate Action Plans.”

Jeremy Smith, Co-Founder - Tourism Declares

Website: Tourism Declares


  1. Develop a ‘Climate Action Plan’

Adopted by your executive board within 12 months of your initial declaration, or sooner if possible.

  1. Share your commitment and progress publicly

Share your initial public declaration, your ‘Climate Action Plan’, and update on progress against your targets each year.

  1. Cut carbon emissions

Accept current IPCC advice stating the need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming. Ensure your ‘Climate Action Plan’ represents actions designed to achieve this as a minimum, through delivering transparent, measurable and increasing reductions in total carbon emissions arising from your activities. (Note: The first sentence of 3 is common to all signatories: the second may be adapted to suit the nature of the supporting organisation. For more information on How to Declare: click here.)

  1. Work together

Encourage suppliers and partners to make the same declaration; share best practice amongst peers;  and actively participate in the Tourism Declares community.

  1. Advocate for change

Recognise the need for system change across the industry to accelerate a just transition towards carbon-free tourism.

ETOA Webinar | Carbon curious? Climate action and tourism