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Aviation emissions

A key focus of the inquiry will be the hefty carbon footprint of the aviation industry. If it were a country, the international aviation sector would be the seventh largest emitter of CO2 in the world. Left unchecked, the industry could consume a quarter of the world’s total carbon budget by 2050. So if the UK is to have any hope of meeting its net zero emissions target, action needs to be taken, now.

 

The first chapter of our new manifesto for tourism, The Fork in the Road, aims to start a debate on whether a Green Flying Duty, to raise taxes for research into aircraft electrification while simultaneously reducing demand for flying, might be part of the solution.

 

Crucially, we want to see an end to carbon offsetting – which I believe to be a distraction – an acceptance that the planned third runway at Heathrow would be a terrible idea [environmentally], and recognition of the fact that in order for the UK to play its part in global carbon reduction, people are going to have to start flying less, and flying smarter.

Sustainable tourism levels

Beyond carbon emissions, it is now undeniable that the phenomenon of overtourism is causing significant environmental and social problems in destinations around the world. High-profile stories range from UK national parks struggling to balance demand with the need to protect fragile ecosystems, to cities such as Edinburgh, Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona levying taxes on tourists to try and reduce demand; the Philippines closing down the party isle of Boracay to clean up beaches and overstretched resorts; and Thailand indefinitely placing Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh off-limits to tourists.

 

The industry must recognise its obligation to mitigate the effects of this rapid growth.

 

It is encouraging to learn that the committee will be seeking to identify ways the impacts of tourism can be limited and reduced, perhaps by initiatives such as taxation, offsets and closer scrutiny of so-called “eco-friendly” holiday packages that may in fact be little more than greenwashing.

 

The tourism industry has escaped scrutiny of its environmental impacts for many years. With the launch of this official inquiry, perhaps we’re finally going to see things getting better for a change.

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