28 June 2021 | The European Council approves new climate law committing the EU to binding targets by 2050, with a strong emphasis on driving down emissions emphasised by a limit to which carbon sinks will count towards the reduction goals. Press Release here.
12 March 2021 | ETOA spoke at an event organised jointly by UNWTO and United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) emphasising the need – especially on carbon emissions – for transparency, comparability and good practice sharing to measure and support transition to carbon neutral travel and tourism. For further information and a recording of the event, click here.
27 January 2021 | The UN publishes results of largest ever global survey on topic: nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that climate change is a global emergency. Full report here.
16 December 2020 | ETOA declares a climate emergency. Full statement here.
12 December 2020 | The UN issues a climate statement on the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
04 December 2020 | ETOA signs a partnership with Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency (Tourism Declares).
19 November 2020 | ETOA participates in “Building Back Better- Reconstructing Governmental Systems and Policies for Sustainable Tourism,” an event hosted by the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with the Travel Foundation & the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). More information here.
19 November 2020 | ETOA moderates panel discussion among at OECD-EC Workshop on Managing Tourism Development for a Sustainable Recovery, ‘Destination Responses to COVID-19’. For related OECD materials on this topic, see here.
17 November 2020 | ETOA on the panel in UN Environment Programme (UNEP) event ‘Transforming Tourism for a resilient and sustainable post COVID world.’ More information and recording here.
22 October 2020 | ETOA Webinar | Carbon curious? Climate action and tourism, featuring Fair Climate Fund, Intrepid Travel, Tourism Declares and UNWTO. More information and recording here.
21 October 2020 | President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, cites ‘Doughnut Economics’ in a climate action speech, endorsing its call for ‘a social foundation of wellbeing that no one should fall below, and an ecological ceiling of planetary pressure that we should not go beyond. Between the two lies a safe and just space for all’. [More information here.]
17 July 2020 | ETOA signs a partnership with carbon offsetting specialists, Fair Climate Fund.
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. In December 2020 we formally declared a climate emergency as a catalyst for action.
- 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
- Developing an action plan to manage our own environmental footprint
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 2020 has 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.
There will be public and private sector response. International aviation emissions are already included in EU climate goals. Product and demand will evolve. Some may travel less but stay longer. 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.
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?
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 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.
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.