The World Travel & Tourism Council, along with 50 CEOs, heads of state, ministers and industry leaders are calling for climate-neutrality by 2050.
The call to action is the result of the first-ever Climate and Environment Action Forum, which is taking place this week in New York City.
The event also resulted in the announcement of an action plan called 0SCARS that is designed to encourage members (leaders from airports, airlines, hotels, tourism boards, travel, technology, and cruise companies) to adopt and accelerate sustainability programs and to share best practices.
The 0SCARS framework includes the following, according to a statement from WTTC:
— 0 [Zero] – WTTC has an ambition for the travel and tourism sector to be climate neutral by 2050. WTTC said it intends to work with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], to establish a framework for decarbonization of the global travel and tourism sector.
— S [Support] – Support the travel and tourism sector in developing ambitious climate strategies, such as setting science-based targets, and in reducing the impact of current activities, products and services by continuously using resources in more efficient ways.
WTTC said it will also work to support energy efficiency measures, renewable energy, and waste reduction, both within companies [throughout the value chain] and with governments to develop incentives to invest in nature-based solutions.
— C [Change] – Develop or share research and evidence for how travel and tourism companies can reduce actual emissions and invest in emission reduction schemes in projects through UNFCCC or equivalent recognized mechanisms.
— A [Act] – WTTC and its members will identify and implement new sustainability strategies and innovative business models as well as seek to align sustainable development efforts with the UN SDGs.
The plan also calls for a commitment to prioritize sustainability by setting ambitious, time-bound sustainability targets, as well as collaborating and sharing data and best practices to improve sustainability.
It also suggests engaging consumers in efforts to make travel more sustainable.
WTTC said it intends to produce an annual report of action that will articulate and show demonstrable movement towards Climate Friendly Travel and progress towards sustainability commitments.
— R [Recognition] – Through the sustainable WTTC travel and tourism partners, WTTC will invite all companies, large and small, to sign up for the program so that they can be recognized for their commitments and progress towards sector sustainability.
— S [Share] –WTTC will launch a Sustainable Travel & Tourism Hub, which will be designed to fuel research, drive best practice sharing, and foster collaboration with key partners including the UNFCCC and UNEP and other experts to find climate solutions that are applicable across the sector.
World Travel & Tourism Council President & Chief Executive Officer, Gloria Guevara, said the new program is the culmination of nearly two years of work, building on a partnership with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to accelerate towards climate neutrality for a sector that has climate and environment action as its top priority.
“As the leaders within the travel and tourism industry, we have the power to drive real change,” said Guevara. “The WTTC has the opportunity to convene the industry so we can move faster, contribute, and address the significant environmental and sustainability challenges facing our world. ”
From a consumer standpoint, 0SCARS aims to help travelers recognize, with a simple and visible stamp in the form of a turtle, the suppliers with sustainable practices.
Within a year, the WTTC hopes to establish this identifier and with the involvement of experts, members, UNFCCC, and UNEP intends to create future higher levels, based on performance.
“Climate change is outpacing us, outpacing our collective ability to get a handle on it, and could soon outpace global business and have a devastating impact on the global economy itself,” said Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary.
“The WTTC’s Sustainability Action Plan is a “timely and important initiative” and a welcomed opportunity to work together to identify ways to achieve climate neutrality in the sector by 2050.”