Carbon moves up the political agenda – action is overdue

Carbon moves up the political agenda – action is overdue

The strikes by school children demanding government action in climate change are growing, reflecting the next generation’s concern about the impact on their future, as they become voters expect to see more government regulation. Just this week (12 April) 60 demonstrations involving tens of thousands of young people are taking place across the UK, with similar action documented across 69 other nations. Back on 15 March one million people across the globe took to the streets to declare a climate emergency. Employees at Amazon and universities are demanding that their employers take action to reduce carbon emissions. Deloitte revealed in 2016 that 49% of millennials will refuse to work for companies which do not align with their own moral compass, with a more recent study from FleishmanHillard Fishburn (FHF) finding that 63% would turn down an interview with a firm that had recently been the subject of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scandal. Read more here.

The business case for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all parts of the sector have never been stronger and public awareness of the issue and its consequences is rising. Climate change is happening now with wildfires, heat waves, flooding, sea level rise and extreme weather events. The most recent IPCC report reminds us that human activities have caused a 1°C increase on pre-industrial levels. Recently emissions have begun to rise again and the IPCC is now forecasting, with a high degree of confidence, that global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. Life will become increasingly unpleasant and dangerous for millions of us unless we take action. Read more here.

In the WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards this year three of the winners were recognised for addressing carbon but two of them were only using carbon offsets. Although still supported by many conservationists and environmentalists as it can be a useful source of revenue. With carbon the challenge is to remove carbon at the source and not emit carbon and other greenhouse gases.

At WTM Africa in Cape Town there was a panel on carbon reduction with speakers from Verde Hotels, Green Tourism Greenstuff and Solarus. We had a site visit to the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore, where Solarus have installed a large-scale commercial hybrid Photovoltaic and Thermal (PVT). When compared to traditional solar panels, the PowerCollector produces both electricity and hot water output up to 70°C and delivers three times more energy on the same surface area. Over a 20-year period, this installation will save the hotel approximately €250,000. Rene Laks, MD of Solarus in Sub-Saharan Africa estimates that the payback period will be around five years.

With new hotels being built, presumable with a life expectancy of 30 years and with imminent rises in the costs of fossil fuels and water how can it make sense not to build new hotels with the latest alternative technology and to retrofit as Radisson has at their Park Inn.

In Dubai, at ATM, there will be a panel on reducing carbon emissions with contributions from Swiss-Belhotel, Intercontinental Hotels and the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence. Carbon will be high on our agenda at WTM London in November and in this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards.

We are looking for examples of initiatives which have developed practical means of reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in any part of the tourism industry.

Over the last year, there has been heightened concern about the risks posed by climate change and our slow and partial response to the challenge. The judges are looking for examples, from any part of the sector – airlines, coaches, cruise, car hire, and accommodation – where solutions have been implemented and where demonstrable and replicable reductions in emissions have been achieved. The judges will seek to level the playing field to ensure that the category could be won by a large or small business or organisation, what matters is the solution, its replicability and the scale of emission reduction relative to the cost of the change implemented.

There are six categories this year: carbon, wildlife & nature conservation, transparent reporting, reducing plastic waste, benefitting local people and coping with overcrowding at sites and attractions.

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracts 2000 participants each year and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Ireland. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

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