Richard Carret, director of marketing and communications at Star Alliance, gives ABTA Magazine his insight into the future of sustainable aviation
Recently, I was asked what needs to happen for the aviation industry to make substantial emissions reductions in the next decade, and whether net zero by 2050 is achievable.
It’s important to note, when we speak of sustainability in aviation, that it is made up several elements, with net zero only one – albeit a very visible one. Airline sustainability programs have been in place for some time now, be it onboard waste reduction programs, elimination of plastics where possible, and ensuring vendors are equally committed to sustainability programs if they wish to do business with us.
But one of the most important elements is to gain efficiencies of scale in the production, availability and economies of scale of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) so that airlines can earnestly begin to decarbonise.
Aviation is one of the most highly regulated and highly taxed industries in the world. And, as we all know, it has been dramatically affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions placed on global travel. The patchwork of measures taken by governments, and the histrionic media coverage surrounding the Omicron variant, has the impact of sapping consumer confidence and thereby creating the conditions for further industry weakening.
Without a strong industry, encouraged by governments and regulators to facilitate the innovation in SAF that airlines are already demonstrating, the aviation industry will be hamstrung in its ability to reach its 2050 goal.
At the end of the day, what is truly important is genuine climate action – universally, driving towards a circular economy and sustainable tourism. Aviation is playing its part, but a complex interdependency exists between government, regulators, suppliers, customers and the airlines themselves means that everyone must contribute.
Sustainability is the challenge of our generation – we need to work collectively towards this.
For Zina Bencheikh, managing director of EMEA at Intrepid Travel, being carbon neutral is no longer enough for a travel business to be sustainable
Sustainability has been top of the agenda at the many virtual and in-person conferences I attended in 2021. It’s clear that, as an industry, we agree that climate change is the biggest challenge we face. We’ve heard a lot about ‘building back better’ – but how far have we really come? In 2022, it’s time to move beyond words and take action.
Climate change threatens the very destinations, people and wildlife that tourists travel to visit. Pre-pandemic, travel and tourism contributed about eight per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. We can’t ignore that, and we must start to take urgent action to radically reduce emissions across the board.
Intrepid has been carbon neutral since 2010, but it’s clear that is no longer enough. That’s why at COP26 we joined other leading travel organisations to commit to ambitious industry-wide decarbonisation, which will see us halve our carbon emissions by 2030 and become net zero as soon as possible before 2050. These companies will be held accountable and will need to show real progress every year.
Intrepid is already decarbonising at the pace and scale that science tells us is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5C. In 2020, we became the first global tour operator with verified science-based targets, as approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. Under this target, we’ll reduce emissions across our operations and supply chains.
But we know that the climate crisis cannot be solved in isolation. In 2022, we need all tourism businesses to increase their commitment to measuring and reducing their carbon emissions, in line with a 1.5C future. To help, Intrepid has released a free measurement guide for tour operators.
We need to create a better, more sustainable tourism industry for everyone. To me, that’s what rebuilding responsibly actually looks like.