There are challenges in all sectors of travel and tourism but the elephant in the room is aviation. Airlines emit 80% of our industry’s greenhouse gasses and air travel is growing at 5% per year. As other industries reduce their carbon emissions aviation will account for ever-larger shares of global emissions. More
Responsible Travel launched the first chapter of their manifesto for change in the tourism industry, The Fork in the Road. They are in the industry, concerned about its future and like all of us in the Responsible Tourism movement convinced that it can be fixed. But it needs to be fixed, we need to take action – business, as usual, is not good enough.
Aviation fuel is untaxed, the polluter pays principle has not been effectively applied to the airline industry. When consumers pay a carbon offset, the airlines and manufacturers evade their responsibility.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has successfully relied on the 1944 Chicago Convention to avoid taxation and to maintain business as usual. It has taken them almost 20 years to develop CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) and that will not apply to domestic aviation.
As Responsible Travel’s Aviation and Climate Change manifesto chapter makes clear carbon offsetting cannot achieve the change needed. In 2017 a European Commission funded research project found that 85% of offset projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – some of the most highly regarded offset schemes in the world – failed to reduce emissions. From 2021 the EU will stop allowing offsets to be counted towards emissions targets, except for aviation.
Those who feel a degree of guilt about flying are encouraged to buy carbon offsets, imagine if when we filled our tanks at the service station we were asked to buy offsets. Would we?
Consider infidelity and off-setting
Consumers are increasingly demanding that producers and suppliers address the sustainability of the goods and services offered to us to purchase – the same pressure needs to come on the manufacturers of aeroplanes and providers of flights. The aviation industry is our sector’s Achilles’ heel.
In the motor industry, there has been rapid progress in developing more carbon-efficient engines and in reducing emissions. Similar pressure needs to be placed on airlines and aeroplane manufacturers. The planes being brought into service now are expected to be flying in 30 years’ time, for sure the regulatory framework will be very different by then.