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The World Travel & Tourism Council reveals climate footprint of EU Travel & Tourism sector

EU sector’s GDP has grown on average 2.1% annually whilst its greenhouse gas emissions increased by just 0.3%. EU sector’s emissions intensity decreased by 14% between 2010 and 2019.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center have unveiled groundbreaking new data detailing the climate footprint of the Travel & Tourism sector in the European Union.

Between 2010 and 2019, just before the pandemic, the EU Travel & Tourism sector decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions.

The new data reveals Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the EU’s GDP grew on average by 2.1% annually, whilst greenhouse gas increased by just 0.3% during the same period.

The data also shows how the sector’s emissions intensity is decreasing.

In 2010, for every $1 USD of EU Travel & Tourism GDP, the sector emitted 0.49kg of greenhouse gas.

In 2019 this figure had dropped by 14% to 0.42kg. This is evidence of the success so far of the many changes implemented by governments and business leaders across the Bloc to create a more sustainable sector.

In 2019, when Travel & Tourism was at its peak, the sector was responsible for 12.7% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU compared to 8.1% globally.

Europe is one of the busiest regions in the world, due to its unique position as arguably the most strategic group of international continental destinations for arrivals and transfers from other regions, arriving at and passing through Europe.

In one of the largest research projects of its kind ever undertaken, the global tourism body can for the first time ever, accurately report and track the impact industries within the sector have on the environment.

This comprehensive, world-first research covers 185 countries across all regions and will be updated each year with the latest figures.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Today, we are able to give governments across the European Union the detailed information they need to make progress against the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Travel & Tourism industry in the EU has decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions and reduced its emissions intensity by an incredible 14% but we know there is still more to do.

“The sector has a starting point now to know exactly where it stands in terms of total greenhouse gas emissions produced in the EU. With this information we need to see bigger and bolder steps to enable the industry to continue to decouple its growth from its emissions. We need government support in supporting the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels and renewable energy from our national grids.”

The global findings were launched last week at the global tourism body’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by the World Travel & Tourism Council and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center.

This research was made possible thanks to the partnership between WTTC and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center. Under the Saudi green Initiative, more than 60 initiatives have been launched in the past year, representing more than $186BN USD of investment in the green economy by Saudi Arabia.

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