How Reliable is the WTTC’s Website on Tourism Emissions?

A New Website to Measure the Carbon Footprint of Tourism

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a new website that aims to measure the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the tourism industry in different countries and regions. The website, developed in collaboration with Oxford Economics, Accenture and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism, uses a metric that calculates the GHG intensity of tourism, which is the ratio of GHG emissions to tourism GDP.

The website claims to provide a comprehensive and consistent framework to assess the environmental impact of tourism, and to help the industry achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The website also offers insights and recommendations on how to reduce emissions and enhance sustainability in the tourism sector.

The website is based on data from 2019, which was the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global travel and tourism industry. According to the website, the tourism industry accounted for 5.3% of global GHG emissions in 2019, and contributed 10.4% to global GDP.


A Flawed Methodology that Favors Developed Countries

However, the website’s methodology has been criticized by some experts and stakeholders, who argue that it paints an unrealistic and unfair picture of the actual emissions of each country and region. The main criticism is that the website uses a metric that is biased towards developed countries, which have higher tourism GDP and lower GHG intensity, and against developing countries, which have lower tourism GDP and higher GHG intensity.

The metric does not take into account the historical and cumulative emissions of each country and region, which are largely responsible for the current climate crisis. The metric also does not reflect the different sources and types of emissions, such as direct and indirect emissions, and scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Moreover, the metric does not consider the different levels of development, income, and population of each country and region, which affect their capacity and responsibility to mitigate emissions.

The critics say that the website’s methodology is similar to the one proposed by the European Union for its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which is a levy on imports based on their carbon intensity. The CBAM has been opposed by many developing countries, as well as the United Nations, the London School of Economics, and the South African government, who say that it is discriminatory, protectionist, and violates the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

A Misleading Website that Could Harm Tourism in Developing Countries

The critics also say that the website’s methodology could have negative consequences for the tourism industry in developing countries, which are already struggling to recover from the pandemic. The website could mislead potential tourists and investors, who might perceive developing countries as more environmentally damaging and less attractive destinations, and favor developed countries, which might appear as more environmentally friendly and more desirable destinations.

The critics say that the website could undermine the efforts of developing countries to promote sustainable and responsible tourism, which is a vital source of income, employment, and development for many of them. The website could also hamper the cooperation and solidarity among the tourism stakeholders, which is essential to address the common challenges and opportunities of the industry.

The critics urge the WTTC to revise its website and adopt a more balanced and accurate methodology that reflects the reality and diversity of the tourism industry, and that respects the rights and interests of all countries and regions. They also call for more transparency and consultation in the development and implementation of the website, and for more support and assistance to the developing countries to reduce their emissions and enhance their sustainability.

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