Fri 1 Oct 2010 – According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism accounts for around five percent of global carbon emissions and about half of the 880 million international tourists worldwide arrive at their destinations by air. In many developing countries, especially small island states, the proportion is much higher and the air transport sector therefore plays a key role in tourism. Recognizing that the sector is a major, and a growing, contributor to global greenhouse gases generated by visitors, UNWTO says the mitigation of these emissions is critical to the sustainable development of the tourism industry. In a statement to be circulated at the current ICAO Assembly and the Cancun COP-16 meeting in December, it calls for a global approach on aviation and climate change that also considers international tourism.
The statement not only underlines the critical role of aviation in tourism, especially in developing countries, it outlines a number of principles that should be incorporated into ongoing work on developing mitigation measures on aviation emissions. UNWTO cautions against such measures being taken in isolation without considering the broader tourism framework.
It calls for the application of the UNFCCC principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) amongst countries to alleviate negative impacts on tourism in developing countries, where the sector accounts for as much as 45% of the service export earnings.
Despite the promising developments of sustainable alternative aviation fuels, UNWTO believes technological, operational and infrastructure enhancements will not be enough for the foreseeable future in countering the anticipated growth of air traffic and considers economic instruments, preferably globally agreed, will be necessary. It says revenues from these instruments, such as levies and emissions trading, should also yield measurable, reportable and verifiable mitigation results including projects in transport and other tourism-related activities. Financial and other incentives should also be provided for the earliest possible global introduction of sustainable additional or alternative fuels.
Speaking at the recent Aviation Environment Summit in Geneva, UNWTO Executive Secretary Márcio Favilla said: “Aviation is strongly linked to the tourism industry and its considerable and growing importance is very clear, particularly to the developing and least developed countries. On climate change, aviation is being shot at, it is a target. We want to contribute to this debate and have the issue treated in the correct way and also help aviation to continue its growth and development. We don’t want to see penalties imposed on the air transport sector as this would damage tourism.”
In October 2007, UNWTO adopted the Davos Declaration, in conjunction with the United Nations Environment programme and the World Meteorological Organization, which specified the tourism sector had to respond rapidly to climate change and progressively reduce its GHG contribution if it was to grow in a sustainable manner. The declaration called for a range of actions, including collaboration with governments and organizations such as ICAO on international strategies in transport. Through the Davos process, UNWTO says it is pursuing wide-ranging programmes on both adaptation and mitigation regarding climate change and tourism.
UNWTO – From Davos to Copenhagen and Beyond (pdf)
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