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Net Zero as the objective for 2030: “We can travel without destroying the world!”

Eine offene Hand hält eine kleine, grüne Weltkugel

Net Zero is feasible - but requires a great deal of effort: Jeremy Sampson presented a path to climate neutrality at ITB Berlin 2024

“De-carbonising the world – with or without us", as Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation, stated at ITB Berlin 2024. His study, entitled “Envisioning Tourism in 2030 and Beyond”. provides a model for achieving climate neutrality. This model is dynamic but it is feasible – however it will require a great effort.

The massive growth of global tourism will lead to an enormous increase in emissions if the approach remains one of business as usual, As Jeremy Sampson emphasised during the Future Track at ITB Berlin 2024: “We must allow the environmentally friendly areas to expand, and restrict those that harm the environment.” The main focus here is on regulating air travel.

The basis for this study by the Travel Foundation is provided by a mix of 40 measures in six categories: compensating for greenhouse gases, electrification and a more efficient offer, infrastructural development to protect the climate, the development of sustainable fuels, the imposition of taxes and levies, and the selective promotion of more environmentally friendly travel behaviour. Sampson believes that the target of net zero can really be achieved if there are systematic combined efforts to implement all the necessary measures.

Based on the predicted growth there is only one scenario that can enable the target of net zero to achieved by 2050, according to Sampson: Far-reaching changes will be needed, for example in terms of travel behaviour and the structuring of the offer. These include a reduction in the distances travelled, a greater expansion of land-based travel, a reduction in the expansion of air travel, limiting long haul flights to 2019 levels, and the use of 100 per cent renewable energy by accommodation facilities, cars etc. Furthermore investments must be made in infrastructure and technology in order to make travel climate friendly.

In 2019 air travel accounted for just two per cent of all journeys, while at the same time producing the highest CO2 emissions. Failure to impose restrictions would see a four-fold increase in the number of flights by 2050, accounting for 41 per cent of the total emissions by tourism. There are only two options for regulating tourism emissions: systematic curbing of global tourism or an equally systematic introduction of net zero travel.