The green tour: Traveling sustainably

Over the past few days, Disney has made headlines for marketing an elite $110,000-a-ticket tour package in the summer of 2023. The tour not only burns a hole in the pocket due to its coveted price , but caused a sensation. among environmentalists with its high carbon footprint and environmental impact.

What makes it particularly carbon-heavy are both the low passenger numbers on the VIP-configured 757 and the aircraft type itself, which isn’t exactly the most climate-friendly available. The 24-day tour is a “bucket list adventure for 75 ultimate Disney fans.” It covers six countries and all 12 Disney theme parks. It also includes a visit to the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza and the Eiffel Tower.

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A carbon price tag of 6.2 tonnes of emissions for each guest, 20 times what a person in a low-income country represents over an entire year, has been estimated in an analysis by the transport group own Transport & Environment (T&E). According to reports, the jet fuel burned to propel the aircraft for the total 19,600-mile (31,500 km) journey would emit a total of 462 tons of carbon dioxide.

Tourism events like Disney that harm the environment are a concern for the planet. Transport-related tourism emissions are expected to account for 5.3% of all man-made CO2 emissions by 2030, up from 5% in 2016, according to a landmark report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Transport Forum (ITF). .

However, while events like Disney increase the carbon footprint, there are events that ensure the least greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions harm the planet.

Rock band Coldplay have pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50% on their world tour in August with a series of initiatives to reduce energy consumption, including stadium floors that harness energy fan kinetics and use renewable energy to power their stage show.

In another case, professional space tourism companies are striving to find “the only carbon-neutral, zero-emission way” to travel to the far reaches of space. Florida-based Space Perspective plans to take passengers up to 100,000 feet for suborbital adventures in a pressurized capsule suspended from a massive high-tech version of a hot-air balloon. It claims to use hydrogen in its rockets to launch into space instead of helium, which is in limited supply and needed for critical medical applications. Space Perspective’s spacecraft is reusable and aims to carry groups of up to eight passengers on six-hour flights by the end of 2024.

Efforts are being made by some States to achieve an ambitious long-term goal (LTAG) of net zero carbon emissions from aviation by 2050, in line with the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. A recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) hailed this progress. “The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) High Level Meeting’s support for a long-term goal for States that is consistent with the aviation sector’s net zero commitment by 2050 is a step in the right direction. A formal agreement at the 41st ICAO Assembly would underpin a common approach by States to decarbonize aviation. This is essential for the aeronautical industry. Knowing that government policies will support the same goal and timeline globally will enable the industry, especially its suppliers, to make the necessary investments to decarbonize,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.

At the same time, as the number of tourists increases and the sector makes progress in achieving low-carbon travel, emissions per passenger-kilometer are expected to decline over the next decade. In this context, UNWTO calls for enhanced cooperation between the transport and tourism sectors to effectively transform tourism for climate action. So should we keep environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in mind when organizing such tours? Yes. Our daily actions, at home and at work, consume energy and produce carbon emissions, such as driving, flying and heating buildings. The report “ESG in travel and tourism, thematic research” offered by GlobalData describes how the need for high levels of ESG performance from stakeholders is met by companies. More than 56% of global respondents said they “somewhat” or “strongly” agree that they are more loyal to brands that support green and environmental issues.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are the best alternative as these fuels are produced from bio-based waste oils, agricultural residues or non-fossil CO2, and have a significantly reduced environmental impact.

Herman C. Harkins