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Priority for climate protection in tourism UNWTO presents a global study of the tools for measuring greenhouse gas emissions

Priority for climate protection in tourism

UNWTO presents a global study of the tools for measuring greenhouse gas emissions

March 08, 2023

Sustainability concepts often focus on ecological sustainability, with one of the important aspects being the need to reduce greenhouse gases. “But for every concept there is one thing in particular that we need: data obtained from readings“, explained Dirk Glaesser, UNWTO sustainability expert, speaking at ITB Berlin 2023. Greenhouse gas emissions from passenger traffic account for a large proportion of the global CO2 footprint. The UNWTO has therefore been investigating the current measurement methods and instruments that are being applied in tourism.

According to the UNTWO study, the tourism sector is responsible for around eight per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. In an effort to support active players in the tourism sector to increase the pace of climate protection measures, a global survey was conducted in 2021 to provide a better understanding of current climate protection measures in the tourism sector. More than 1,000 representatives of travel destinations, companies and supporting organisations from 131 countries responded to the questionnaire.

For accommodation, for example, the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) was made available, a methodology and a free instrument that enables hotels to calculate the CO2 footprint of hotel residence in their premises. There are also customised measurement systems in multinational companies as well as supporting services for members such as those belonging to Greenkey etc. The advantage for hotels is that the HCMI is widely available. In addition many companies are developing their own solutions and there are numerous new instruments offering a simplified approach.

Among the tools and methods available to tour operators there are a number of different approaches: Much Better Adventures uses an open-source method: ”We collaborate 100 per cent with local, independent companies, thereby avoiding intermediaries, inefficiency and surcharges. This offers our clients a better ratio of price to performance, and for every 100 dollars that they spend, 78 dollars goes into the local economy“, according to those responsible. For tour operators there are also such instruments as atmosfair, ICAO calculators and Sustainable Travel International calculators. The outcome for this group: different operating models make it more difficult to obtain measurements, there is no consensus regarding the inclusion of international air transport, and larger companies seek the use of external consultants.

There are a number of possibilities for destinations, including: the initiative for measuring sustainable tourism (MST), which is applied at a national level, the input-output model used by the University of Queensland, customised calculators supervised by DMOs, the Ademe open source calculator or the Co2rism calculator. In such cases it is found that the most complex challenge facing destinations is that of gaining an understanding of roles, limitations etc. Moreover, they are the least well supplied in terms of resources.