The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC’s) eye-opening report today confirms what many of us already knew to be the truth: that urgent and unprecedented action is required to keep global warming within 1.5◦C, or consequences for people and planet will be disastrous.
The report makes clear that climate change is already happening. Our planet is now 1◦C warmer than pre-industrial levels. The devastating hurricanes in the US, record droughts in California and Cape Town and forest fires in Europe and the Arctic are dramatic manifestations of the impact climate change is already having. Scientists reviewed 6,000 scientific works to reach their conclusions. Impacts for a 1.5◦C warming compared with 2◦C include:
- At 1.5◦C the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower.
- Hundreds of millions fewer people would be affected by food scarcity and climate-related poverty.
- At 2◦C heatwaves like those experienced this summer would be more common and more severe, causing more forest fires and increasing heat-related deaths.
- Insects and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat.
- 99% of corals would die at 2◦C but have a more than 10% chance of surviving at 1.5◦
- Sea-level rise would affect 10 million more people by 2100 at 2◦
The IPCC details four key actions to achieve 1.5◦C, with shifts in land use and technological changes required. Reforestation is essential, as is a move to electric transport and adoption of carbon capture technology.
CO2 needs to be cut by 45% by 2030 (compared with a 20% cut to achieve 2◦C) and achieve net zero carbon by 2050. This would demand carbon prices three to four times higher. However the report also says that the required changes are both feasible and affordable, and the cost of doing nothing would be far higher.
These findings underline the relevance of ITP’s Goal for Carbon which invites the hotel industry to adopt science-based targets for CO2 footprints and to collaborate to achieve carbon reductions at scale. It aligns with our Hotel Decarbonisation Report which shows that a pathway towards a net zero footprint for the industry is achievable if the drive exists to make it happen.
Welcoming the IPCC report, director Madhu Rajesh said, “The main finding of this report is the need for urgent action. At the current level of global commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 3◦C of warming, so we need to scale up to achieve more, faster than is happening now.
“The main finding of this report is the need for urgent action. At the current level of global commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 3◦C of warming, so we need to scale up to achieve more, faster than is happening now.”
Madhu Rajesh, Director, ITP
“ITP members share this sense of urgency and purpose and believe that the sector can – and needs to be – a force for good. Together we’re driving sector-wide collaboration and engagement with the channels, actors and mechanisms that will help us to mobilise large-scale action on carbon.
“The world’s leading hotel groups are committed to playing their part in mitigating climate change, and they understand the risks and costs associated with failing to act. They recognise the opportunities that come from leading the way, and the benefits of sharing their learning with others. Several ITP member companies are answering the call and have set mitigation targets aligned with a 2 degree scenario (e.g. Hilton, Whitbread) or increased their purchase of renewable energy (e.g. Indian Hotel Company Limited) or are already carbon neutral (Soneva). But our members represent just 15% of the hotel sector, so we’re sounding a call to action to the wider industry to join us, adopt ITP’s Goals and drive change further and faster than you can acting alone.”
This article was published in 2018 when Sustainable Hospitality Alliance was known as International Tourism Partnership (ITP), part of Business in the Community (BITC).