As a signatory and launch partner of the historic Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at COP26, Intrepid Travel co-founder Darrell Wade explains why this moment matters.
Greta is right: the time for “blah blah blah” is over. The climate crisis is without doubt the issue of our times, and the travel industry, which is responsible for an estimated 8 per cent of global emissions, should be taking its contribution to this crisis very seriously.
For long too long there has been too much talk and too much rhetoric when it comes to climate action—whether that’s in the travel industry or beyond. There has been action on a variety of fronts, sure. But while offsetting, tree planting, carbon credits and other such solutions have their place, they’re ultimately not going to cut it. What the world needs is actual carbon reduction. Fast. And at scale.
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As an industry we need more measurable action, and we need to be able to hold organizations who claim to be taking climate action to account. We need decarbonization on a massive scale: less greenwashing, more green-doing.
Sustainable travel advocates and industry insiders Jeremy Smith and Alex Narracott had the right idea when they founded Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency back in 2019. That incredible movement, which was run by volunteers, resulted in close to 400 travel organizations signing up to commit to climate action. It was clear that there was real appetite for change from small to medium sized companies all around the world.
Travel companies have to take action. And show us you mean it: sign this Declaration, and prove you’re willing to put in the work.
But if we’re looking to decarbonize as an industry, we need to get the big carbon emitters (think airlines, hotel chains, cruise lines) on board. And we need them to remain on board for the long haul.
That’s why the announcement of the Glasgow Declaration: A Commitment to a Decade of Tourism Climate Action at COP26 this week is so important. This industry-changing Declaration is an evolution of Jeremy and Alex’s Tourism Declares work (and the work of many other brilliant and committed individuals), except now it has the backing of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), among others.
The Declaration’s goals are clearly defined, and we will be able to measure and track signatories’ progress against their pledges. That framework and accountability is important: this is about action, not talk.