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CEOs report on the companies‘ environmentally friendly activities

Four stages to carbon neutrality and beyond

CEOs report on the companies‘ environmentally friendly activities

March 10, 2022

Hotels can implement their environmental objects both top-down and bottom-up. But they have to do it, and do it now. This urgent appeal, combined with a four-stage concept, from basic measures through carbon neutrality to “net positive” tourist facilities was issued by the Chairman of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Wolfgang Neumann, to a panel of international CEOs from hotel chains. At this event they described how they intend to put words into action.

Initially, irrespective of the status quo, there were basic measures for reducing CO2 emissions, explained Neumann. The second stage had to consist of robust measures for a significant and measurable reduction, and finally the objective was carbon neutrality. Ultimately hotel operators had to implement objectives that incorporated a negative CO2 balance. In this way the sector attained a leading position in the struggle to prevent global warming.

According to its CEO Sébastien Bazin, the Accor hotel group has set itself the task of a 46 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. To achieve this it was first necessary to determine the footprint of each separate hotel. Individually defined roadmaps then established the objectives at each stage. “But one has to begin with the staff, who should all be committed to sharing in this task”, he said. As a consequence of the climate summit in Glasgow, Accor decided to discontinue certain hotel projects which did not appear to be consistent with environmental objectives.

Nakul Anand from the Indian conglomerate ITC is already operating a number of large zero emissions hotels. He does not believe there are any standard prescriptions for attaining these objectives, because conditions differ from place to place. For example, in some areas it is difficult to dispense with plastic bottles if they are the only way of providing clean drinking water.

For Marloes Knippenberg from Kerten Hospitality, which operates hotels and residential properties on behalf of investors, it is a matter of examining each individual process to determine its environmental compatibility. She proposed starting with local solutions and trusting in the “butterfly effect”, in which many small actions eventually produce global changes. The most important aspect is the change in mentality, according to Dirk Bakker, the Dutch CEO of the commercial real estate consultancy Colliers. This includes learning from young people, who often have better ideas about implementing environmental objectives.

Bazin and Anand concluded by pointing out that employment in a hotel is often the first career step for many new staff. Along with the overall positive effect for underprivileged groups in many countries, it also offers an opportunity to impress upon them the urgent need for environmentally compatible action, which can then spread out from them into the population at large, Bazin said. Bakker added that the same applies to guests, who must also be confronted with the need for acting in an environmentally aware way, if they are not already actively pursuing carbon neutrality.