June 9, 2023

WTTC research downgrades tourism’s share of greenhouse gas emissions

Research by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has found the sector’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions are less than previous estimates.

The “pioneering” research shows that in 2019 global travel and tourism was responsible for up to 8.1% of emissions globally, lower than the widely-believed 11%.

The findings, which cover 185 countries, were launched this week at the WTTC’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh.

Julia Simpson, President & CEO of WTTC, said: “Until now we did not have a sector-wide way to accurately measure our climate footprint. This data will give governments the detailed information they need to make progress against the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Travel & Tourism is making huge strides to decarbonise, but governments must set the framework. We need a steely focus on increasing the production of Sustainable Aviation fuels with government incentives.

“The technology exists. We also need greater use of renewable energy in our national grids – so when we turn on a light in a hotel room, it is using a sustainable energy source. 

“8.1% is the stake in the ground. The key is to become more efficient and decoupling the rate at which we grow from the amount of energy we consume. From today, every decision, every change, will lead to a better and brighter future for all.”

The WTTC says the sector’s emissions have been falling consistently since 2010 as the result of technological developments and the introduction of a number of energy efficiency measures across industries within the sector. 

It claims that between 2010 and 2019 the sector’s GDP has grown on average 4.3% annually whilst its environmental footprint has only increased by 2.4%. 

The ongoing Environmental & Social Research (ESR) will include measures of the sector’s impact against a range of indicators, including pollutants, energy sources, water use, as well as social data, including age, wage and gender profiles of travel and tourism related employment.