Tourist industry to make climate promise at Cop26

Travel bosses will promise to cut emissions and protect areas vulnerable to global warming

Island tourist destinations such as the Maldives are vulnerable to the effects of global warming. Reuters
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The tourist industry is promising to cut emissions from travel in a Glasgow Declaration to be launched at the Cop26 summit next month.

The declaration says many tourist areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Venice suffered catastrophic floods in 2019, while most of the Maldives is only one metre above sea level.

It says that tourism should “move rapidly away from carbon- and material-intensive ways of delivering visitor experiences, instead prioritising community and ecosystem wellbeing”.

The first challenge for the industry is to bring about a halt a rise in pollution, with emissions from tourism up by more than half between 2005 and 2016.

If the holiday industry cannot turn the tide, emissions are forecast to keep rising by another 25 per cent in the next decade.

There is a self-interest in doing as many of the world's tourist spots are being damaged by the ravages of change. “Climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss jeopardise most tourism activities,” the declaration adds.

Industry bosses will promise to protect biodiversity and water supplies while cutting the carbon footprint of transport, accommodation and food. Tourism bosses in Scotland, the location of the COP26 meetings, are among those putting their names to a pledge to halve emissions over the next decade.

They will commit to making a climate plan within 12 months of the summit and acting to protect communities vulnerable to disaster.

“We all recognise that tourism has an important role to play,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, the secretary-general of the World Tourism Organisation.

“It’s highly vulnerable to climate change and contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases, while being well placed to contribute to adaptation.

“But no one organisation can tackle this alone. That’s why we need to work urgently together within a consistent sector-wide approach to accelerate change.”

The declaration will call for tourism emissions to be net zero by 2050, the same goal adopted by some governments, such as Britain’s.

Scotland’s tourism board will hold talks next week aimed at helping businesses in Glasgow to go green.

It emerged last month that two of the venues which will be used at Cop26 have some of the worst energy efficiency ratings in the city.

The Scottish government acknowledged in June it had missed a target of cutting emissions by 55 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

Updated: October 01, 2021, 1:04 PM