The World Travel & Tourism Council and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have agreed a common agenda for climate action in the tourism sector.
The partnership was announced today at the WTTC Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Recognising the ambition set by the Paris Agreement to maintain temperature levels at two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and the economic importance of tourism to the world’s economy, the agenda sets out a framework for the two organisations to recognise and address the linkages between and climate change.
Speaking at the event in Buenos Aires, Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “This is the first time the tourism sector has actively engaged on a global level with the UN Climate agenda.
“We recognise that tourism has a huge role to play in addressing climate change.
“While climate change itself poses significant risks to some tourism destinations, in many of the most high-risk areas, tourism can provide opportunities for communities to build resilience to its impacts.
“At the same time, as a fast-growing sector, tourism has a responsibility to ensure this growth is sustainable and sits within the parameters set by the Paris Agreement.
“I call on players across the sector to join us in the move towards a climate neutral world.”
Given the importance of tourism to the world economy and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the growing imperative to address climate change in a meaningful way, WTTC and UN Climate Change will work together towards a carbon neutral world with the aim of:
Communicating the nature and importance of the interlinkages between tourism and climate change.
Raising awareness of the positive contribution tourism can make to building climate resilience.
Reducing the contribution of tourism to climate change and supporting quantitative targets and reductions.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president, commented: “Sustainable growth is one of WTTC’s strategic priorities and climate action is a pillar within that.
“This is a huge opportunity for our sector to really engage in a meaningful way with the global climate agenda.
“We are already seeing how climate change is impacting our sector with extreme weather events, rising sea levels and destruction of biodiversity.”
WTTC has been actively engaged in climate change conversations since 2009 when the council set out a comprehensive framework for the sector and set an aspirational target of reducing total carbon emissions by no less than 50 per cent by 2035 with an interim target of 30 per cent by 2020 with a follow up report issued in 2015.
Chris Nassetta, WTTC chair and chief executive of Hilton, added: “We recognise the very viability of our industry during the golden age of travel depends on a planet that can support and sustain our growth.
“Building on the global scientific consensus around decarbonisation efforts that came out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and WTTC’s subsequent call for the dialogue on carbon to turn to science-based targets, now it is time to turn that dialogue into action.”