- On March 7, 2017
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Addressing travel companies’ climate change impact is not about altruism but about business value. This will be a key message during the ITB CSR Day, taking place on 10 March.
The event is part of the ITB Berlin Convention, which will feature more than 200 talks and debates from industry leaders, sharing best practice, recent research and updates about travel trends.
While some companies still believe adopting climate-friendly measures is costly, others are already moving ahead and reaping a number of benefits, said Stefan Gössling, professor at the School of Business and Economics at Linnaeus University, Kalmar and at the Department of Service Management of Lund University, both in Sweden.
Saving energy, cutting costs
One key step is energy conservation, which helps to save costs, said Prof Gössling, who will be hosting a climate change panel as part of the ITB CSR Day. Some measures to cut energy use can have a pay-back period as short as two years, he said.
“When you waste energy, you are wasting money and that to me is the major argument for any business to look into emissions,” he said.
Enhanced reputation on and off-line
In addition, “there is a growing consumer expectation” for travel businesses to act responsibly and those who do are perceived more positively, enjoying enhanced reputation and customer loyalty, he said.
Policy changes: a carbon tax?
Besides learning from the experience of early adopters, delegates can also get updates about how future government climate policy will affect the travel industry. After the Paris climate agreement in 2015, some governments, especially in Europe, have given strong indications that in future they may put a price on carbon emissions, effectively making travel more expensive.
“There are two things on the table – one is what can you gain from voluntary action and then what do you have to expect in terms of policy because we now have a global climate agreement,” said Prof Gössling.
“Things are ongoing and, as always, you can be the laggard who is surprised by development or you can be the leader who knows what to anticipate and prepare for it,” he said.
Besides cutting down energy use and opting for renewable energy, companies can also invest in carbon offsetting. This means they in effect buy the right to pollute from others who have cut down their emissions. Choosing a credible carbon offsetting partner can be tricky, said Prof Gössling, who recommends buying offsets from projects registered under The Gold Standard, established by a number of reputable non-governmental organisations.
Yavor Vassilev, CEO and founder of CO2 Cards, a company that offers carbon-offsetting services, expressed a similar opinion.
“Transparency is key to ensure the money generated through offsets contributes to sustainable development and meaningful change,” he said.
Businesses can also offer clients the option to take voluntary action, purchasing offsets at the time they are booking travel services.
“Companies can partner with clients to act responsibly and the good news is this is relatively affordable and easy to set up with the help of modern technologies,” said Mr Vassilev who will be available at ITB Berlin from 8 – 10 March.
Delegates can find more information about marketing sustainable travel during a dedicated panel at the ITB CSR Day. Other topics will include sustainable food and drinks, future luxury tourism products, as well as a debate about the environmental impact of the cruise industry.
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