Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have a role to play in fighting global warming. Bodies representing the travel industry are no exception.
According to Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO Greg Duffell, members of his body should lobby their governmental representatives in advance of next week’s COP15 climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Kyoto Protocol to prevent climate change and global warming runs out in 2012. Governmental representatives from 170 countries around the world are expected at the Danish event. It is hoped that a Copenhagen Protocol can be reached.
“The travel and tourism industry must speak with one voice in this important issue,” Duffell says.
“We must acknowledge our environmental and social responsibilities, commit to sustainable practices, and support every practical measure that seeks to reduce carbon emissions. But we also expect the government ministers attending the Copenhagen conference to treat travel and tourism as an equitable partner in this process.”
According to a press release issued by PATA, the organization supports the call for a standardized process of carbon calculation for each sector of travel and tourism. It is also continuing to monitor the destinations that are most at risk from the effects of climate change.
“There is no doubt that travel and tourism stakeholders have developed a much more mature attitude and a much greater understanding since this debate began in earnest at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.” Duffell says.
“I encourage all members to make use of the opportunities to contribute valid and pertinent comments via the conference website and the COP15 social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. And it’s important that we involve employees at every level – this is not an issue for the boardroom alone.”
So just how serious is the threat? Some believe that it could prove catastrophic – if drastic action is not taken now. “Climate change is one of the single biggest threats to the world as we know it,” says the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
“However, according to [a] report launched by the WTTC, immediate action can reduce current levels of green house gas emissions and redesign a sustainable global economy, at the same time as helping to minimize the threat of climate change.”
According to the Davos Declaration, which was issued in 2007 in Davos, Switzerland, the tourism sector needs to “rapidly respond to climate change, within the evolving UN framework, and progressively reduce its Greenhouse Gas contribution if it is to grow in a sustainable manner.”
To accomplish this, the sector needs to mitigate against GHC emissions, adapt to changing climate conditions, improve energy efficiency, and secure the financial resources needed to help poor regions and countries.