WTTC unveils first global climate footprint data for travel and tourism

  • Between 2010 and 2019, the sector’s GDP grew by an average of 4.3% annually, while its climate footprint grew by just 2.4%

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) today unveiled groundbreaking new data detailing the climate footprint of the global travel and tourism sector.

The findings were released today at the world tourism body’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh by the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Center for Global Sustainable Tourism in Saudi Arabia.

In a world first, this comprehensive research covers 185 countries across all regions and will be updated every year with the latest figures.

During her opening remarks, Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, announced the results of the Environmental and Social Research (ESR). In one of the largest research projects of its kind ever undertaken, WTTC can, for the first time, accurately report and track the impact that industries in this sector have on the environment.

Previous estimates suggested that the global travel and tourism sector was responsible for up to 11% of all emissions. However, WTTC’s pioneering research shows that in 2019 the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled just 8.1% globally.

The economic growth divergence of the climate footprint sector between 2010 and 2019 is evidence that the economic growth of Travel & Tourism is decoupled from its greenhouse gas emissions.

These emissions have decreased steadily since 2010, as a result of technological developments as well as the introduction of a number of energy efficiency measures across all industries in the sector.

Between 2010 and 2019, our sector’s GDP grew by an average of 4.3% annually, while our environmental footprint grew by just 2.4%.

The wider environmental and social research (ESR) will include measures of the sector’s impact against a range of indicators including pollutants, energy sources, water use, as well as social data including age, wage and gender profiles of employment related to travel and tourism. .

WTTC will continue to announce new data on how the sector is doing against these indicators throughout 2023.

Governments around the world now have a tool to inform their decision-making and accelerate environmental change more precisely.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, said: “Until now we haven’t had a sector-wide way to accurately measure our climate footprint. This data will give governments the detailed information they need to make progress on the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Travel and tourism are making huge strides in decarbonisation, but governments need to set the framework. We need a firm focus on increasing the production of sustainable aviation fuels with government incentives. The technology exists. We also need greater use of renewable energy in our national grids – so when we turn on a light in a hotel room, it uses a sustainable energy source.

“8.1% is the stake in the field. The key is to become more efficient and decouple the rate at which we grow from the amount of energy we consume. From today, every decision, every change will lead to a better and brighter future for all.”

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb added: “We are proud to be a partner of the WTTC in this important research that will monitor the impact for the future.

Saudi Arabia recognizes that travelers and investors want policies that promote sustainability in the industry, and we have embarked on a journey that will make the Kingdom a pioneer in sustainable tourism.

“Under the Saudi Green Initiative, we have launched more than 60 initiatives over the past year to do just that. The first wave of initiatives represents more than $186 billion in investments in the green economy.”


For more information, please contact the WTTC Press Office at [email protected]

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