The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a Net Zero Roadmap, designed to “guide the global travel and tourism sector in its battle against the climate crisis”.

The WTTC partnered with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Accenture to develop the initiative.

The report shows that the sector is responsible for an estimated 8-10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and provides concrete guidelines and recommendations to help businesses to reach net zero by 2050.

The roadmap groups businesses in the sector into three clusters depending on their emission profiles and the difficulty of limiting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The roadmap includes key decarbonisation levers and specific actions for the five key industries of accommodation, tour operators, aviation, cruise and tourism intermediaries such as online travel agents and metasearch engines.

It argues that certain industries may achieve net zero before 2050 “if more ambitious targets are set and different decarbonisation approaches are followed”.

The recommendations are as follows:

  1. Set baselines and emission targets now to achieve individual and sector goals
  2. Monitor and report progress regularly
  3. Collaborate within and across industries and government
  4. Provide finance and investment required for the transition
  5. Raise awareness and build knowledge and capabilities on climate change

Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, said:

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

Emily Weiss, Managing Director and Head of Accenture’s Travel Industry Group globally, added:

“As the travel industry resets after a tough few years, there is an incredible opportunity to rebuild responsibly and accelerate the shift towards a net-zero future for the sector.

“The Net Zero Roadmap offers a pragmatic but ambitious course of action that will help the industry create real and visible targets to reduce its carbon impact, providing the transparency that consumers demand. Crucially, it identifies the big levers where travel can turn a corner on emissions and provides the building blocks to create meaningful change.”

The collaborative process included input from organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) and Travalyst. The full report can be accessed here.