New York, NY – The World Travel & Tourism Council [WTTC], the global body that represents the private sector of the Travel & Tourism industry, in conjunction with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], brought together over 50 CEOs, Heads of State, ministers and industry leaders at its first-ever Climate and Environment Action Forum this past week and called for climate-neutrality by 2050. The event, taking place during New York Climate Week, included the announcement of an action plan called 0SCARS to encourage its members — leaders from a sector that spans airports, airlines, hotels, GDS, tourism boards, travel, technology and cruise companies — to adopt and accelerate sustainability programs and to share best practices.
The framework for 0SCARS is as follows:
• 0 [Zero] – WTTC has an ambition for the sector to be climate neutral by 2050. WTTC will work with UNFCCC to set a framework for decarbonisation of the global Travel & Tourism sector.
• S [Support] – Support the Travel & Tourism sector in developing ambitious climate strategies, such as setting science-based targets, and in reducing the impact of current activities, products and services by continuously using resources in more efficient ways. We will also work to support energy efficiency measures, renewable energy, and waste reduction, both within companies [throughout the value chain] and with governments to develop incentives to invest in nature-based solutions.
• C [Change] – Develop or share research and evidence for how Travel & Tourism companies can reduce actual emissions and invest in emission reduction schemes in projects through UNFCCC or equivalent recognised mechanisms.
• A [Act] – WTTC and its Members will: 1. Identify and implement new sustainability strategies and innovative business models. 2. Seek to align sustainable development efforts with the UN SDGs. 3. Commit to prioritise sustainability by setting ambitious, time-bound sustainability targets. 4. Collaborate and share data and best practices to improve sustainability. 5. Engage consumers in efforts to make travel more sustainable. 6. WTTC will produce an annual report of action that will articulate and show demonstrable movement towards Climate Friendly Travel and progress towards sustainability commitments.
• R [Recognition] – Through the Sustainable WTTC Travel & Tourism Partners, WTTC will invite all companies, large and small, to sign up to the programme so that they can be recognised for their commitments and progress towards sector sustainability.
• S [Share] –WTTC will launch a Sustainable Travel & Tourism Hub which will fuel our research, drive best practice sharing, and foster collaboration with key partners including the UNFCCC and UNEP and other experts to find climate solutions that are applicable across the sector.
Gloria Guevara, President & Chief Executive Officer, World Travel & Tourism Council, called the new program a culmination of nearly two years of work, building on a partnership with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] to accelerate towards climate neutrality for a sector that has climate and environment action as a top priority.
“As the leaders within the Travel & Tourism industry, we have the power to drive real change,” said Guevara. “The WTTC has the opportunity to convene the industry so we can move faster, contribute, and address the significant environmental and sustainability challenges facing our world. ”
From a consumer standpoint, 0SCARS aims to help travellers recognise, with a simple and visible stamp in the form of a turtle, the suppliers with sustainable practices.
Within a year, the WTTC plans to establish this identifier and with the involvement of experts, members, UNFCCC, and UNEP, will create future higher levels, based on performance. WTTC, UNFCCC and UNEP will invite experts including the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, NGOs and academia to join the efforts to define different levels of sustainability within STTP.
“Climate change is outpacing us, outpacing our collective ability to get a handle on it, and could soon outpace global business and have a devastating impact on the global economy itself,” said Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary.
“The WTTC’s Sustainability Action Plan is a “timely and important initiative” and a welcomed opportunity to work together to identify ways to achieve climate neutrality in the sector by 2050.”