Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC says

Tourism sector must transform in face of climate change

- A Monitor Report 05 Dec, 2019 | 1288 Views|-+
Madrid: The travel and tourism sector, with its significant economic and social benefits, has no choice but to transform to survive and thrive in the face of climate change.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said this to industry representatives at UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 2019 (COP25) taking place from December 2–13 in Madrid.

In 2018, the industry generated 10.4 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product—or more than USD 8.8 trillion—but climate change puts those numbers, and more, at risk.

Despite these numbers, the travel and tourism also accounts for around 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change.

“Thanks to this sector, millions of people have been able to explore new destinations, reunite with family and friends, and fulfill dreams of exploring the world. As well, it has created jobs, most significantly in developing countries, offering people financial freedom. It is truly a global economic powerhouse,” said Espinosa.

However, “the ravages of climate change will soon require all of us, government and corporations especially, to do things differently,” informed Espinosa, citing a recent open letter from heads of leading financial institutions, “If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.”

In opening remarks at the event, Gloria Guevara, President and Chief Executive Officer, WTTC said the message is already clear to her organisation’s members and climate and environment are “top priority.”

WTTC has set as an ambition for the sector to be climate neutral by 2050, in collaboration with UN Climate Change, and many companies are already showing leadership in reducing their climate impact. “In order for us to grow, the growth has to be good for everyone; it has to be sustainable,” said Guevara.

The organisation last year signed up to the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative with a pledge to measure its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce what it can and offset the rest, while promoting the same climate-friendly regimen to its 150 members worldwide.

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