Climate Crisis Think Tank – Net Zero Action Plan

This week I became Chair of the Specialist Travel Association (AITO) ‘Climate Crisis Think Tank (ACT)’.

A recently created group of fellow travel professionals dedicated to addressing the most appropriate way we, as tour operators, travel agents and business affiliates, can take on and react to the present climate crisis.

This is a position I am honoured to accept, although somewhat daunted at the enormity of the challenge.

The easy bit is realising that the human race’s annual releasing of billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere is creating temperature rises with devastating consequences. The tougher gig is addressing how best we, in the travel industry, can embrace the most appropriate action to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation, weather extremes, natural disasters, conflict, economic disruption, and species extinction.

Although I do not bring any scientific expertise or particular knowledge of how best to assist those working in a global travel & tourism industry (who’s transport-related discharges are expected to account for 5.3% of all man-made CO2 emissions by 2030), as Chair I hope to, at the very least, offer a constructive combination of awareness & enthusiasm in tackling the complex nature of the tourism industry’s climate impact.

Galvanised by the apocalyptic predictions of rising sea levels, devastating weather patterns and biodiversity loss, as well as individuals such as Greta Thunberg and the impending COP26 Conference in November, my fellow ACT members and I do not take this responsibility lightly.

Equally, spurred on by the sustainable tourism beliefs of our fellow AITO colleagues, we recently published the following mission statement:

“Mindful of the global climate emergency, the AITO Climate Crisis Think Tank (ACT) seeks to promote meaningful and sustainable travel in collaboration with key stakeholders, including AITO members and business partners, the wider travel industry, regulators and government.

 By engaging with the core topics of aviation, over tourism, consumer travel practices, industry sustainability, carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, the ACT seeks to contribute to the essential decrease in global warming, whilst continuing to promote the benefits of meaningful travel.”

Here’s hoping, with fellow industry colleagues’ support, we can walk the talk.

In addition to supporting the 220 companies involved with AITO, who collectively send away over 600,000 p.a. clients and employ over 4,000 people, we aim to assist them in creating their own Climate Emergency Plans, through carbon calculators, emission reductions and carbon offsets.

We are also aware of our responsibility to engage the wider travel industry community. Starting with aviation, our much-loved destinations, and less-loved regulatory authorities.

Above all we will need to fully embrace and act upon a dialogue of collaboration, communication, and collective responsibility. Feeding off the fact that despite us all being new to working out how to effectively address this crisis, there are positives a foot. For example, with society in general’s climate crisis consciousness leading the way in business, the price and power of the world’s economic markets needs to reflect the demands of society.

‘Values’ must drive ‘value’, enforcing wholescale credible net zero carbon plans along the way.

On the basis that

  1. the last 5 years have been the warmest on record.
  2. the last 10 have seen global ice-loss triple.
  3. oceans have become 30% more acidic.
  4. wildlife has dropped over 60% past 35 years.

I am open to as much advice as I can get on implementing a travel & tourism zero net emissions action plan.

5 replies
  1. Jono Vernon-Powell says:

    Hi Richard – yes, really hoping the USA’s sea change on all things ‘environment’, brought in by the Biden’s administration, have an immediate and last impact.

  2. Sarah Potts says:

    Possibly a bit like the conscientious food and eating debate, if you want food with a decent provenance you have to be prepared to pay for that to be the case. If you want to travel in a way that takes into consideration at every stage, the environment, you need to fork out.

  3. Richard Wimms says:

    Jono. Good luck with the new challenge. How about creating ‘Sustainable Travel Corridors’. We are looking at ways when travel restrictions are relaxed as to how to offer trips to the USA that are more sustainable. The USA is nearly always ignored with initiatives from Tour Operators for ‘sustainable international tourism’ because…..well because it’s the USA. It’s a new agenda now with Biden. Be good to develop some ideas.

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