New Zealand's tourism industry is being challenged to lead the fight in reducing carbon emissions, with a major new initiative announced at Tourism Summit Aotearoa 2021.
The Tourism Carbon Challenge urges every tourism business to measure its carbon footprint, to take action to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030, and contribute to a tourism industry that is net-zero carbon ahead of New Zealand's 2050 goal.
"The climate crisis is an international problem, but we need local solutions. Even though times have never been tougher for our industry, tackling climate change is everybody's responsibility and can't be put off to another day," Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said.
The Tourism Carbon Challenge mission statement is:
"The climate challenge is urgent and Aotearoa New Zealand's tourism industry must be a driver of change. We must act immediately to accurately measure our individual and collective carbon footprint, work together to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030 and be net-zero carbon before 2050.'
"We want everybody to be inspired and motivated to get behind the mission. This will involve both individual and collective action," Roberts said.
The Tourism Carbon Challenge is part of the Tourism 2025 & Beyond sustainable growth framework and also gives impetus to tourism businesses in advancing the Tourism Sustainability Commitment's commitment 11: Carbon Reduction - we act urgently to contribute to Aotearoa New Zealand's transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
The first step in meeting the challenge will be to accurately measure tourism's carbon footprint and this work is already getting underway.
To support tourism operators to meet the challenge, TIA is planning a range of actions and support programmes that will be instigated over the next few years. These will involve working with the government as well as individual businesses.
TIA has recently completed a successful Sustainable Tourism pilot programme working with WellingtonNZ and 12 Wellington tourism operators and there is potential for this to spread out across the country, Roberts said.
"The Tourism Carbon Challenge is setting an aspirational and very ambitious target. But acting responsibly on climate change will be central to the recovery and rebuild of our industry. We recognise that some sectors face greater challenges and some will reach net-zero carbon sooner than others, but we're all in this together."