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Tourism CEO calls for industry-wide carbon labeling

Tourism CEO calls for industry-wide carbon labeling
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A new study has broken down full holiday CO2 emissions for the first time – revealing some important key findings for both industry and consumers.

Activist company commissioned the report, authored by Professor Stefan Gössling, of Lund University and Dr Ya-Yen Sun of the University of Queensland.

The pilot study uses raw data to measure the carbon impacts of transport, accommodation energy and food options across a selection of holidays.

The study highlights a pressing need for the tourist industry to design holidays with reduced emissions across food, accommodation and transport – offering greater plant-based choice, minimizing food waste, focusing on local, seasonal produce – and switching to renewably-powered accommodation.

Justin Francis, founder and CEO of Responsible Travel, said: “We know we have to fly less, but that’s not the only significant contributor to the carbon emissions of your holiday. Your food is a significant, and sometimes the single biggest source of CO2 emissions from your holiday. To get to net zero carbon 2050 we’ll need to fly less and change what we eat. This is a small pilot study, but it starts that conversation.”

He added: “The significance of the broader impacts we see here are such that as consumers, we have to change how we approach travel as a whole – and as an industry, we have to help facilitate that. We need to see a radical review of tourism in favor of lower-carbon holidays – but there are robust and workable solutions here that can be beneficial to both consumers and companies themselves.

“We’re seeing progress in some quarters but it’s not fast, stringent or transparent enough. Consumers deserve the data they need to make informed choices – these are really complex issues but we need to start discussing, and working towards, an industry-wide carbon-labeling standard.”

Professor Stefan Gössling, co-author of the study, said: “I’m extremely happy that Responsible Travel is taking the lead on climate change and looking into the carbon footprints of their holidays. We have learned a lot already: top-notch holiday experiences can be very low carbon. This is an exciting way of moving forward on decarbonization.”

For more than a decade, Responsible Travel has advised customers to ‘fly less and stay longer’ in destinations. This study supports this theory. While transport will usually be the most impactful aspect of the holiday, the gap between this and other emissions sources such as food and accommodation, begins to close when a traveler increases their length of stay.

Key findings below: view the report and method notes online here

• Transport will usually be the primary carbon contributor of any holiday. But what we eat (our holiday foodprint ) can, in some cases, exceed a trip’s accommodation energy and transport emissions: even the flights.

• Where more climate-friendly choices are made – holiday emissions can be very close to the global sustainable average per day, and almost half the current average per day per person emissions in the UK.*

• The smaller, more sustainable accommodations surveyed can emit four times less carbon than many 4 star hotel chains.**