Many of the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism companies have improved their carbon efficiency by 20% in the last ten years and are on course to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2035, according to a major new report released today.
“Travel & Tourism 2015; Connecting Global Climate Action”, published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), outlines the preparedness of the sector for climate change alleviation measures and demonstrates the progress that has been made by the world’s leading airlines, airports, hotels, cruise lines, car rental companies and technology companies in the last decade.
The report concludes that the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism companies, as represented by the Members of WTTC, are:
– 20% more carbon efficient today than they were in 2005
– On course to cut CO2 emissions by 50% from 2005 to 2035
– On course to reach the target of 25% reduction by 2020
In 2009, The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) published “Leading the Challenge on Climate Change”, which identified key themes and action areas required to meet the target of reducing our 2035 carbon emissions by 50% based on 2005 levels. In the run up to the COP21 climate change talks in Paris at the end of this year, WTTC has reviewed progress against these themes to determine how the sector can build on this progress to respond effectively to the challenges of the future.
The initiatives and progress made to date have reduced carbon emissions to the point where WTTC Member companies are 20% less carbon-intense now than they were in 2005, closely approaching the interim target of 25% intensity reduction in 2020 set in 2009. The progress in reducing carbon intensity can be attributed to several actions across each of the themes identified in 2009:
1) Accountability and Responsibility. The sector has made strong progress against this theme, particularly in admitting to the challenge of tackling climate change and setting out plans to address and measure it. Various methodologies for calculating and measuring carbon usage have been developed and more and more companies are engaging with global frameworks for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting such as GRI and CDP.
2) Local community sustainable growth and capacity building. WTTC members actively demonstrate on-the-ground action in the form of community engagement, charitable contributions, disaster relief, or conservation efforts. Several WTTC Member programmes address deforestation in particular, while others focus on wider biodiversity protection such as preserving coral reefs, hosting bee colonies on rooftops, managing waste, or ensuring sustainable sourcing.
3) Educating customers and stakeholders. Most Travel & Tourism companies now have branded sustainability programs, and these often include customer engagement programs
4) Greening supply chains. Most WTTC members now have formidable supplier screening and supply chain engagement programs and have developed practical tools to help procurement from local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of this.
5) Innovation, capital investment and infrastructure. Similar to ESG reporting being the primary step towards accountability and responsibility now, so were the use of operational environmental management systems and green certification schemes our focus in 2009. Most WTTC Member companies have achieved green certification of some type.
The report also outlines the five priority areas to support the overall target of halving emissions by 2035:
1) Integrating Climate Change and related issues into Business Strategy by disclosing climate change issues in mainstream financial reporting, utilising recognised frameworks and collaborating to harmonise the approach for disclosure within our industries. Commitments will stem from securing leadership from board governance and senior executives.
2) Supporting the Global Transition to a Low Carbon Economy by joining in the leading practice of establishing an internal price of carbon, focusing on renewables for new investments, seeking low carbon financing mechanisms, contributing to local economies with carbon mitigation, and catalysing the economies of scale to create a virtuous circle.
3) Strengthening Local Resilience by recognising the value that local natural and cultural heritage has for Travel & Tourism, enhancing the assessment of our operations and forging partnerships to build resilience against climate risks, reducing local drivers of climate change.
4) Promoting the Value of Responsible Travel by giving travellers the tools to be responsible travellers, encouraging participation in our initiatives, and offering new experiences tied directly to low carbon solutions. We will extend these tools to our business travellers who play an integral role in increasing ESG information from Travel & Tourism companies.
5) Engaging Across the Value Chain by focussing efforts on the biggest opportunities found across the entire value chain to reduce carbon emissions through mechanisms such as supplier screening and local procurement. Furthermore, Travel & Tourism is in a unique position to build consumer awareness of the world’s key supply chain threats by engaging travellers to link the destinations they visit with the issues back home in their own purchasing decisions as consumers and professionals.
David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said: “In 2015, Travel & Tourism is forecast to contribute almost 10% of world GDP and 1 in 11 of all jobs on the planet. The strength of the sector is due to continue for the next decade at almost 4% per annum. With such robust growth, Travel & Tourism’s relationship to climate change becomes critical.
“Much has changed in the six years since we published “Leading the Challenge on Climate Change” to support the global climate talks backing international agreements. While the sector has grown, added more jobs and contributed billions of dollars to economies all over the world, we have seen real commitment to sustainability from business as companies innovate and collaborate with others to reduce their overall impacts. WTTC Members are investing heavily in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, are protecting valuable ecosystems and have been building awareness of their actions among stakeholders and customers. The majority of WTTC Members are publicly disclosing their efforts through various means of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting.
“Per passenger, per room, per rental, per transaction, and per unit of revenue, we now serve global travellers 20% more efficiently than in 2005 and are contributing to our goal of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035.
“The next 20 years will be characterised by our sector fully integrating climate change and related issues into business strategy, supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy, strengthening resilience at a local level against climate risks, promoting the value of responsible travel, and greening entire supply chains.
“To reach these long term goals, much still needs to be done across Travel & Tourism and other sectors, but we now have a common understanding and are ever-closer to agreement on the global actions necessary.”
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.