Too often the travel and tourism industry fails to look beyond the sector, beyond the silo, we all have a natural tendency to self-reference. There is an understandable tendency to compare business and destination performance with our past or our competitors. Governments and voters will compare our performance with that of sectors.
Way back in 2016 Carbon Brief asked Dr Joeri Rogelj, one of the world’s leading experts on carbon budgets to look at aviation emissions. His calculations suggested that “aviation emissions between 2015 to 2050 will consume 27% of the remaining carbon budget to have a decent chance of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C above preindustrial levels. The share of the remaining budget for 2C is smaller, at 7%, but still significant”.
In March 2020, the respected German consultancy Roland Berger forecast that if other industries decarbonise in line with current projections, aviation could account for up to 24% of global emissions by 2050 unless there is a significant technological shift. Last week’s post here on Travel Tomorrow explained why there is good reason to be sceptical about the aviation industry’s reliance on SAF biofuels and off-setting. We need a technological shift.
Davos last week was dominated by the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and food shortage, but climate change was not neglected. Jim Hagemann Snabe, chairman of Siemens AG, stated at the event that for future growth, it will be imperative to “dramatically accelerate the investments and decarbonise all of the critical infrastructures… [including] energy systems, food systems, transportation systems, healthcare systems.” Decarbonisation is seen as an opportunity in many sectors.
Statista has worked with the Financial Times to identify Europe’s climate leaders. In the Travel & Leisure category, there were five companies: a brewer (Greene King), a chain of pubs (Wetherspoons), a gambling and financial trading business (Playtech), and an online betting business (Kindred). Only two are tourism businesses. A Croatian tour operator (Valamar) and IHG Hotels and Resorts. There are twenty in the Transport and Logistics group, including Manchester Airports Group, NATS National Express and Network Rail.
While we are not decarbonising rapidly enough to avoid exceeding the 1.5°C limit, the travel and tourism sector is lagging behind other sectors. The cruise lines are an example of just how the travel and tourism sector lags behind.
At the beginning of the month, Statista reported on black carbon (soot) pollution. Although cruise ships make up only 1% of the global fleet, they account for 6% of black carbon (BC) emissions. This reveals how disproportionately bad for the environment cruise ships are, releasing the highest amount of black carbon per ship of any vessel.
The travel and tourism sector is largely a leisure industry, a fun industry. If, as seems increasingly likely, we fail to reduce emissions fast enough, governments will regulate and force reductions in our sector’s activity. We need to decarbonise as other sectors are doing.