Tourism and travel in a low-carbon economy


The World Economic Forum on behalf of its travel and tourism community presented its report “Towards a Low Carbon Travel and Tourism Sector” to Yvo de Boer, director general of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as a contribution to the Copenhagen Climate process. The report is part of a longstanding action by the travel and tourism sector to respond to climate change and prepare for the shift towards the green economy.

The report is a collaboration between the World Economic Forum, UNWTO, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and travel and tourism business leaders.

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“Towards a Low Carbon Travel and Tourism Sector” puts forward numerous proposals for mitigation of greenhouse gas emission for transport (air, sea, land) and accommodation, as well as other travel services within the broad tourism and travel industry.

It explores and identifies short- and long-term solutions for carbon emission reduction including market mechanisms such as global emission trading schemes and innovative methods of transformation towards the green economy.

In presenting the report on behalf of the stakeholders, UNWTO assistant secretary-general Geoffrey Lipman said: “This is our contribution to the Copenhagen process and beyond. It reflects the commitment of our sector to proactively support the international community’s response to the climate crisis. It also underscores the need for coherent economic and development strategies ­where tourism and travel can play such an important role.”

Thea Chiesa, head of aviation, travel and tourism industries at the World Economic Forum, stated: “The study was developed over a one-year period as a multi-stakeholder process in which industry, international organizations, governments, and industry associations collaborated to analyze the impact of the travel and tourism sector on CO2 emissions and develop a framework for emission reduction by the sector as a whole.”

“Towards a Low Carbon Travel and Tourism Sector” also supports global approaches for emission trading for aviation and calls for proceeds to be used for green economy projects in the travel and tourism sector. It raises the possibility of a “Green Fund for Travel and Tourism” to help finance the trillion-dollar mitigation projects identified for air transport, cruises, and hospitality.

The study points out how governments, industry, and consumers can collectively improve the low-carbon sustainability of travel, which will in turn enable the continued growth of the sector and the sustainable economic development of nations. It notes particularly the importance of tourism as an export and development driver for poor countries, small islands, and land-locked states and calls for continued sustainable air transport growth in these countries.