Environment, Poverty & SDGs

Climate Friendly Travel and Tourism

GOZO, Malta, Oct 28 2020 - SUNx Malta, a not-for-profit organization, based in Malta is advancing and enabling “Climate Friendly Travel” which is tourism and travel that is Low-Carbon and linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and follows the Paris Agreement 1.5 degree trajectory.

Hans Friederich

Together with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the 2019 Global Climate Action State of the Sector Report produced by SUN Malta noted the limited engagement of travel & tourism stakeholders in the global climate discussions, although the sector is responsible for 10% of global GDP.

While there are many hopeful statements, there is not much substance in many of the ambitions of the sector. To fill this gap, SUNx Malta brought together a think tank of international experts in travel and tourism in early 2020 to discuss how best to effect transformation to climate friendly travel. My report on the meeting can be accessed here:https://hansfriederich.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/the-existential-climate-crisis-requires-even-more-urgent-action-by-the-entire-global-travel-tourism-sector-than-has-been-generally-recognized-to-date/.

The findings of the report embraced a wide range of issues, one of the identified priorities being education of the next generation of travel and tourism practitioners. As a response, SUNx Malta has started an international Climate Friendly Travel Graduate Diploma with the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS) in Malta. The 2020/2021 course is delivered through the internet, in the face of the COVID 19 travel restrictions. It is hoped that in the coming years students will be on site in the ITS Campus on the island of Gozo, Malta. Most of the current students come from Small Island States and from the African continent. It is expected that they will return to their current employers and become trainers in their own right. This will eventually create a world-wide group of 100,000 Travel and Tourism Climate Champions by 2030.

SUNx Malta has also created a global Registry for 2050 Climate Neutral and Sustainability Ambitions to be the travel & tourism entry point into the United Nations Climate Action Portal. The idea of a climate reduction ambitions registry for Nations was built into the 2015 Paris Agreement and this was extended to non-state actors like regions, cities and companies. After we realized the limited engagement of travel & tourism stakeholders, we reached agreement with the Climate Change Convention to create a discreet travel and tourism climate change ambitions registry. The Climate Friendly Travel Registry was launched on 25 September during the climate week that formed part of the 2020 United Nations General Assembly programme. With effect from 1 October 2020, I have the honor of being the Registrar of this new Registry.

As a catalyst, the Registry will be open to all travel & tourism companies and communities, whether or not they have created a 2050 Carbon Neutral Ambition yet. It will cover transport, hospitality, travel service and infrastructure providers – from the smallest to the largest.

Registrants who are still developing their carbon reduction strategy will have two years to benefit from on-line knowledge and support systems. Those who have already embarked on a 2050 Plan will be able to readily incorporate those details in the Registry, with little or no extra work. They can cross-reference any other mainstream carbon reduction initiative they are already involved with, as the SUNx MaltaRegistry is complementary to such other initiatives.

As the new Registrar, I think there are four very compelling reasons for a tourism company or community to register their carbon reduction ambitions:

    Responsively: Everyone should make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. The potential customers of the company are increasingly doing this and they are expecting it from the company as well. Recording the plans on the Registry is a way to show the good intentions;
    Economically: Reducing the carbon footprint will reduce operational costs, as daily CO2 emissions are typically a result from electricity use. In addition, registration can be used for branding and advertising purposes.
    Politically: All countries are preparing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Climate Change Convention, and the private sector has been asked to contribute. Our register is the only official registry for tourism and travel that is recognized by the Convention;
    Strategically: Some countries are already preparing national legislation to enforce climate action, and this will eventually become law throughout the world. Registering your ambitions now will put you in a stronger position to have a full plan when it becomes a legal obligation;

I hope that many small and large tourism and travel companies and communities will sign up to show their commitment to climate action, and to highlight their particular ambitions.

For more information about the Registry, go to: https://climatefriendly.travel/
More information about the Diploma course is available here: https://its.edu.mt/courses-admission/32-courses-admission/468-diploma-in-climate-friendly-travel.html
A report of the launch is available here: https://travelcommunication.net/featured/sunx-malta-launches-climate-friendly-travel-registry/.

The author is a member of the Board of SUNx Malta

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