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COP15- Forecast Agreement Means Treble Whammy for Tourism

Source: travelmole.com
By Valere Tjolle

The cynics and naysayers have now exposed themselves and their arguments. The fact is that there will be a joint statement of agreement at the end of COP15 and it is becoming more and more likely that this will have legal standing very quickly indeed, maybe within 6 months.

Whether or not the world is warming, whether or not this is as a result of human activity, whether or not changing our activity will stop the process - the mitigation and adaptation process will ensue more strongly than ever.

The key issue for tourism is how this will affect our global industry. Will the agreement be good, or bad or indifferent for:

  • Destinations
  • Transportation companies (airlines, shipping, train, road)
  • Tour Operators
  • Hotels and other accommodation

Rich countries are now being asked to raise their pledges on tackling climate change under the draft text, released last week, of a possible final deal at the Copenhagen summit. An official document prepared by one of the summit's chairmen calls on developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25-45% from 1990 levels by 2020.

If countries agree, then there must be some form of penalty for missing these targets and some form of monitoring. Moreover, poor countries will not be able to reduce their emissions without financial assistance. Whatever the figures are, the assistance from developed countries to developing ones will represent a substantial cost. And the transition to the greener economies predicated by the agreement will cost even more.

The movement of funds from the developed nations to the developing and less developed ones has been represented as the biggest redistribution of wealth in the world's history, and it is.

The Stern Review of 2006 identified the cost of climate change mitigation and adaptation at US$20 - US$30bn a year (€13.6 - €20.4bn, UK£12.2bn - UK£18.3bn). So where's the money coming from and who's going to pay? The time-honoured slogan ‘Let the Polluter Pay' would appear to identify the fairest method.

Most people who know are talking about robust MRV (measurement, reporting and verification) - see www.wri.org/topics/mrv and the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organsiastion - www.icao.int/) in the same sentence. The idea is that there will be a robust MRV and the ICAO will devise airlines' carbon fees.

OK that sorts out the airlines and other polluting industries, but the big bucks, so far US$10bn, €6.8bn, UK£6.1bn a year is on offer, are going to have to be found by developed world countries. Where are they going to get the money from? Tax is the simple answer. They will probably call it the ‘Cost of moving to a Green Economy' which, of course it is, but it will be a drain on the marketplace.

So travel and tourism gets a treble-whammy - less consumer spending, more taxation, plus emission charges as the cherry on the cake.

If the travel and tourism industry, in particular, isn't buckling its belt ready for a prolonged recession, then it should be. At the end of next week more figures will become available, and when the deal has legal force in 2011, the effect on tourism will become more apparent and forecasting more accurate.

In the meantime, where are the challenges and opportunities?

It is likely that a global emissions trading scheme will be established along the lines of the EU-ETS - this will establish a market price for Carbon Dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases. It will also give more credibility to carbon-offset schemes.

The challenge? Emissions and MRV will become an extra cost to add to each and every bill and/or to each and every bottom line. Tourism won't escape.

The opportunities? The more emission-efficient your operation is, the less you'll pay/charge. Everybody could benefit - hotels, airlines, tour operators, destinations. Hence the carbon-neutral destination will not only have a PR spin but become a commercial opportunity too.

We'll find out more next week.

And the alternative? No deal or a watered-down one, the challenges of which simply don't bear thinking about.

Get a copy of the postCOP15 Tourism Carbon Guide, Sustainable Tourism Report and Marketing Guide. See: www.travelmole.com/stories/1139697.php

 






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