Solutions to mitigate the carbon footprint of travel
It is necessary that all companies in the sector collaborate not only to reduce the impact of travel on the environment but to generate awareness among travelers
Last month after the publication of the article "Carbon footprint in global tourism" of the journal Nature Climate Change, alarms were raised about the environmental problems that the sector is creating and the importance of the entire travel ecosystem , which is not limited to airlines, generates quick and effective actions that can counteract them. This publication indicates that global tourism contributes about 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, which makes it higher than previous estimates. This is because previous articles only estimated the emissions of the transfer, but in this study the research is broader because it not only adds emissions for transport but also includes goods and services enjoyed by tourists, from food to purchases and stays in hotels.
The Paris Agreement established an ambitious path of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The central objective is to maintain the global temperature increase in this century below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. However, a key element is that it requires greater transparency and precision in the emissions report. All actors in the travel sector have a great responsibility to raise awareness among millions of travelers, implement technological solutions that improve environmental performance and use alternative options such as carbon compensation, in order to achieve the goals proposed in the Agreement. of Paris and the Agreements of the sector such as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for the 50% reduction in carbon emissions, IATA for carbon neutral growth by 2020 or ICAO to reduce carbon emissions from International aviation by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.
Carbon calculators and their fight against pollution
In a study carried out by Amadeus and Griffith University, it was found that tourists are aware of the impact that travel has on greenhouse gas emissions. It was further confirmed that travelers need and want more information about their travel-related emissions, in particular with respect to greater transparency of airline carbon emissions. The researchers noted the need to make carbon information more accessible to travelers, suggesting that carbon calculators could support behavioral changes among travelers.
Amadeus, the world's largest provider of software for the travel industry, reached an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) through which Amadeus can incorporate this information into all of Amadeus' distribution platforms for knowledge of travelers.
The carbon calculator provides a standard industry estimate and global CO2 emissions per passenger for any city covered by civil aviation in the world. In addition, many airlines offer the opportunity to reduce the impact of carbon emissions when booking flights. First the traveler is informed about the level of emissions released with a carbon calculator and then the traveler can make a payment to be invested in projects that reduce emissions by the same amount of the trip (carbon offset).
Latam Airlines for its part has been constantly working on projects that reduce its environmental impact. In Peru they started three years ago with the project "carbon bonus" with which they have reduced by 25% the impact of CO2 emissions from their land operation and 18,800 tons of CO2 have been compensated, through the purchase of bonds from certified carbon . In Colombia, there are also sustainable projects, such as the restoration of areas affected by mining and livestock in Cáceres (Antioquia) and the reforestation project in the Darién region (Chocó) .
Technological innovation in pursuit of sustainability
It is no secret that technology has become the most important item in the travel industry, this tool has transformed the way tourism is made and will continue to do so. This is why it is totally logical to think of it as the main weapon to solve pollution and its effects on the environment.
As is the case with the Altéa Departure Control platform, which is currently used by 102 airlines and 35 ground operators around the world. This solution maximizes fuel efficiency in aircraft, based on the basic concepts of safety, weight, precision and efficiency. This strategy allowed Finnair to achieve a reduction of up to 500 kg. of fuel on long-haul flights.
Also, as part of a research project led by Breda University of Applied Sciences, a carbon management tool for tour operators was developed. The so-called CARMACAL allows tour operators to measure the detailed carbon footprint of their tour packages. The tool contains information on carbon intensity and gives them options more linked to sustainable tourism, such as low carbon airlines and shorter travel routes.
With tourism growing (UNWTO predicts a global tourist growth of 4% in 2018) it is clear to the industry and government organizations that the only way to counteract the effects of pollution is by generating concrete actions of change and technology is a great allied The actors of the sector can not forget that tourism par excellence has been the representative of the environment and must also help preserve their identity, airlines and technology companies in the sector such as Amadeus are already dealing with this problem, but it is necessary that all the actors of the sector join this initiative and invite travelers to continue acquiring awareness in this regard.