If the travel industry is a country, it is the 5th largest polluter of carbon in the world today, contributing 8% to global carbon emissions. What does this say about us – the operators, advisors and owners of properties, vehicles and services in the hospitality, tourism and aviation sector of the travel industry?
Our sector prospered as travel became one of the world’s fastest growing industry and we contributed in a positive and negative way. In 2018, there were 1.3 billion international travellers and it is forecasted to reach 2+ billion by 2030.
In October 2018, the UN IPCC reported that our planet will reach the dangerous 1.5° Celcius (33.98° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial level by 2030 (in around 10 years) if we do not lessen our carbon emissions by more than 50%. We are at 1.1° Celcius (33.98° Fahrenheit) today. Species are vanishing. Extreme temperatures are increasing. Devastations caused by the climate we are changing are escalating.
The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate called for enhanced action prior to 2020 on Carbon Mitigation, Transparency, Loss and Damage, and Support. The 195 countries that signed this agreement are expected to step forward with ambitious national plans to be implemented in 2020. This is in a few months. How many companies in the travel industry is ready for this?
In the last few years, more companies have committed to sustainability, but few are accountable, transparent and reducing carbon. Many operators and owners are still doing nothing or too little, impelled by short term self-interests or outright denial. There are many excuses to delay commitment and many prefer cheap and easy ‘eco’ solutions or greenwash over accountable and transparent sustainability performance. This needs serious scrutiny from within our industry and from our stakeholders – our guests, employees, influencers, media, travel partners and investors.
We can no longer afford not to make the environment and social responsibility our business priority. Consumers, specially Generation Y & Z, are critically aware that there is a direct link between sustainable business, the environment and people’s lives; and there is no hiding in today’s interconnected world.
In mid 2018, NOW launched the NOW Force for Good Alliance, an affiliation of extraordinary and caring places to stay that provides a sustainable travel experience and takes responsibility for their impact on communities and the environment. NOW provides an accredited sustainability programme, guidance to simplify the complex sustainability topic, an interactive NOW Sustainability technology to communicate rigorous commitment to sustainability to all stakeholders, track progress, promote direct bookings with no commissions charged, and calculate plus offset air travel carbon emissions. We entrust partners with the NOW Sustainability Trust Icon to recognize commitment to sustainability and give reassurance that your brand has integrity.
I urge all operators and hotel owners to go beyond seeing environmental and social challenges as costs, to seeing the potential savings and ROI on the brand, reputation and staff retention. Travellers today expect safer, more honest, more responsible, truly accountable sustainable destinations and accommodations with no greenwash allowed.
It is the right thing to do. it must be NOW!