COP26 Glasgow Declaration on climate change: Global travel industry urged to halve emissions by 2030

The global travel industry has been urged to be part of a meaningful contribution to sustainability at COP26 with the launch of the Glasgow Declaration: a Commitment to a Decade of Tourism Climate Action.

The Glasgow Declaration invites travel organisations and businesses to recognise the "increased urgency" of climate action in an industry responsible for an estimated 8 per cent of global emissions.

The declaration states: "We support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero as soon as possible before 2050."

"We will consistently align our actions with the latest scientific recommendations, so as to ensure our approach remains consistent with a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels by 2100."

Importantly, it's not just a pledge. Signatories must develop "climate action plans" detailing how they're going to halve their emissions by 2030.

Plans will be lodged at the One Planet Network website run by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which will monitor the travel industry's progress until 2030.

It's the first time the travel industry has made such a global commitment. The framework for the Glasgow Declaration was inspired by Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, a small, UK-based not-for-profit launched in January 2020.

"It's a scaling up of ambition like we've never seen before, a landmark moment in our industry's response to the climate emergency," says Tourism Declares co-founder Jeremy Smith, who was involved in drafting the Glasgow Declaration, along with representatives from the Travel Foundation, VisitScotland, the UNWTO and UNEP, with input from more than 30 other travel organisations around the world.

Chairman of Intrepid Travel, Darrell Wade - one of the new Declaration's first signatories - says travellers are increasingly showing they want to make sustainable choices.

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"This initiative gives the travel industry a push to offer low-carbon alternatives, whether it's innovative new travel products or the same products decarbonised," Wade says.

"A net zero hotel looks and feels the same as a carbon-intensive hotel, but it makes a world of difference to the environment. Ditto, sustainable aviation fuel is on the way; you still get from A to B, but without the carbon emissions."

It will also make it easier to see which travel companies are truly "walking the talk", says Jeremy Smith.   "The Declaration is not only focused on direct decarbonisation, but on the role tourism can play in regenerating ecosystems and communities, which means more flourishing wildlife, cleaner environments, and societies with a better quality of life.

"And that makes for better holidays."

See oneplanetnetwork.org