May 2023 | ETOA partners with Greentripper, a Brussels-based climate action consultancy, to help implement its climate action plan and offer services and support to its members. Further information to be published shortly.
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.
- 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
In May 2023, ETOA entered a new partnership with Greentripper (see Climate Action Partners below), a Belgian climate action consultancy and service provider. We will publish an update to our CAP setting out how they have helped us mitigate our activity for 2022, and what we have learned during that process. ETOA is a member of the European Commission’s official expert group on tourism’s transition: T4T.
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 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.
Greentripper is helping ETOA address its own carbon footprint as part of its climate action plan.
They also support our wider outreach and support, helping us to fulfil our commitments under the Glasgow Declaration. Greentripper’s expertise, tools and network can make sustainable practices more accessible and cost-effective. ETOA members have access to a range of services offered at discounted rates:
- Impact Calculation: comprehensive assessments of the carbon emissions associated with travel activities, based on your needs: consultancy services, a business portal, calculation tool (API) integration, etc.
- Impact Reduction Services: guidance in minimizing operations with negligible impact on travel operators while promoting sustainable practices.
- Impact Offset: assistance in offsetting the unavoidable environmental impact by supporting climate projects all around the world. By engaging with these projects, you contribute to initiatives that capture, avoid, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greentripper provides offset options based on your prefered type of climate action: Act Global (certified offset), Act Local, and Act Glocal (certified offset + contribution to a local environmental action).
- Communication Support: assistance in communicating your climate actions both internally and externally, helping you raise awareness and engage stakeholders through effective training and communication strategies.
To learn more about Greentripper and the services they offer, visit www.greentripper.org or contact the team via email@example.com
Founded by leaders from the tourism and sustainability sectors, who share a passion for travel and the benefits it brings, TerraVerde is a sustainability consultancy, dedicated to the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors. They support their B2B tourism partners in formulating their sustainability strategies, adhering to global frameworks such as GSTC* and SBTI**. Comprehensive carbon measurement for company operations, products and events is a further speciality service.
*Global Sustainable Tourism Council
**Science Based Tourism Initiative
ETOA caught up with Patrick Richards, Founder Director of TerraVerde, to get his perspectives on cost-saving and marketing opportunities.
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.
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]
Website: Tourism Declares
- Develop a ‘Climate Action Plan’
Adopted by your executive board within 12 months of your initial declaration, or sooner if possible.
- Share your commitment and progress publicly
Share your initial public declaration, your ‘Climate Action Plan’, and update on progress against your targets each year.
- 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.)
- Work together
Encourage suppliers and partners to make the same declaration; share best practice amongst peers; and actively participate in the Tourism Declares community.
- Advocate for change
Recognise the need for system change across the industry to accelerate a just transition towards carbon-free tourism.
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.
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.