The industry takes a new step towards sustainability
A white paper that includes interesting data and a series of expert recommendations has been presented in WTM Virtual
WTM Virtual, as an integral part of the tourism ecosystem, has published a new expert white paper: Aviation Decarbonization: The Path to Net Zero for the Travel and Tourism Industry, which looks at what needs to be done right now.
The closure of borders and the growing concern about travel, both internationally and nationally due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have shown very clearly the contribution of the aviation sector to carbon emissions.
An investigation  estimates that daily carbon dioxide emissions from aviation were 60% lower in early April 2020 than the 2019 average level.
The climate crisis has not disappeared while the pandemic has devastated the world.
To limit global temperature rises below 2 ° C that the world signed into the Paris Agreement and 1.5 ° C countries hopefully achieve, the air transport sector must make significant changes in the way it operates to reach zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
This includes supporting the development of e-fuels, sustainable aviation fuels produced directly from CO 2, initially from industrial smokestacks that have yet to achieve zero emissions and then extracted directly from the atmosphere.
They can be 'brought in' and mixed with the fossil fuels currently used by airplanes.
It will also require manufacturers to accelerate the development of aircraft powered by electric motors, hydrogen and fuel cells, as well as for the sector to embrace new ways of flying.
The new white paper makes a series of recommendations:
Governments and international organizations should impose e-fuel mixing fees;
Tour operators and destinations should insist that airlines and airports adopt or accept e-fuel blends despite the higher cost of tickets associated with e-fuel use;
Airlines should make greater use of direct e-fuels, at least in the short and medium term, and explore other sustainable fuel options, such as hydrogen, in the long term;
Aircraft manufacturers must invest more in the development of zero-emission aircraft and accelerate the rate of fleet replacement;
Governments should withdraw their support for the development of existing aeronautical technology in favor of electronic fuels and hydrogen fuel cells;
International commitments to adopt carbon-friendly flight procedures, such as the single European sky, and avoid parts of the atmosphere where contrails develop;
More compensation, using only certified and high-quality schemes, in the short term;
Travelers must vote with their feet, select more environmentally friendly options, and force airlines to make changes or switch to other modes of transportation.
The document is the result of a virtual symposium organized by WTM Virtual and which brings together the leading experts in aviation decarbonization from around the world (see notes).
The symposium was organized by Dr Harold Goodwin, Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University and advisor to WTM London, Professor Paul Peeters, Professor of Sustainable Transport and Tourism at the Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands and international aviation policy analyst Chris Lyle.
"The climate crisis is accelerating and there is no time for procrastination, even as the world is struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic," said Dr. Goodwin.
“There is an alternative. The tourism industry should demand that governments force the aviation sector to develop and adopt carbon-free fuels before there is a forced reduction of flights ”.
Professor Paul Peeters says: “Until 2015, I thought the main option to significantly reduce aviation emissions would be to reduce the distances people fly and replace short-haul flights with sustainable modes of transport. But these days everything points to a combination of mandatory electronic fuels and the development of fuel cell aircraft. For both, the industry is ready to deliver, but now everything depends on the sectoral and political will. It is the choice of the tourism and travel sectors ”.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director at WTM London, said:
“The contribution of aviation to the climate crisis is a problem that needs to be solved. It is not just a problem for the aviation sector - travel and tourism as a whole need to acknowledge the problem. We are currently at an important crossroads in travel and tourism, where the direction we take will make a huge difference to our destination ”.
The technical report is available for download