Sustainable hotel on a tropical beach with solar panels
Area of action

Climate action

Climate change is a global issue on which governments, industries and people all over the world are uniting to take action

Our impact

Climate change and the hospitality industry

Climate change is a global issue that is affecting communities, lives, businesses and economies all over the world. The World Economic Forum has now ranked climate action failure as the top global risk, demonstrating the urgent need for governments, businesses and people to act.1

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990.2 This is having a notable impact on our climate. Every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the one before,3 and we are seeing extreme weather events damaging lives and livelihoods around the world, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable people.

Climate change is already affecting the hospitality sector. Extreme weather is increasing the cost of operations and reducing the number of tourists visiting certain destinations, while local and national environmental policies and penalties are being introduced in cities and countries around the world.

The hotel sector accounts for around 1% of global carbon emissions4 and this is set to increase. Hospitality, like other industries, has a responsibility to manage its impact on our planet.

We commit to embrace science-based targets and encourage the wider industry to join in reducing emissions at scale.
Sustainable hotel building with green leaf facade
Sustainable building design

Sustainable building design

Promoting the business benefits of sustainable hotels for all industry stakeholders.

Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI)

Find out more

This free tool was created to help the industry to understand and benchmark their carbon footprint and energy usage. Use the tool to calculate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in your hotel properties. 

Background to our work on climate action

We carried out research to better understand the current and projected climate impact of the hotel sector. We used this information to identify the actions needed for the industry to align with the targets set by the Paris Agreement.

Our research found that the hotel industry needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 66 per cent per room by 2030, and by 90 per cent per room by 2050 to ensure that the growth forecast for the industry does not lead to a corresponding increase in carbon emissions.5

What we are doing

Working collectively with the industry, we are driving action on climate change through:

  • reducing carbon emissions
  • promoting sustainable building design
  • increasing renewable energy usage
  • addressing single-use plastic and sustainable procurement

We are doing this by:

Convening the industry
  • Our climate action working group brings our members together to share expertise and address carbon emissions and sustainable procurement.
Practical action
Building a movement
  • We engage with the broader industry to raise awareness of the risk of climate action failure.
  • We are promoting the financial benefits of sustainable building design to hotel investors, owners and operators to increase collaboration among business partners during hotel construction and refurbishment.
Global partnerships for sustainable development
  • We are working with IFC – part of the World Bank – on the business case for sustainable building design and the need for investment in sustainable hotel refurbishments.
  • We collaborated with UN Environment to increase the implementation of sustainable procurement practices in the tourism sector.
  • We have worked with leading environmental specialists including Greenview, Climate Group and UN Environment to create our tools and resources.

Climate action resources

See our resources

View our resources index

We have free practical tools, research and resources to enable every hotel to manage their carbon emissions and environmental impact.

View our guidance

Guide to our resources

Discover how to use our resources for support with awareness, implementation and best practice examples.

Partner with us

Become a partner

We work with hospitality companies, governmental institutions, non-profits and other industries to address climate change across the global hospitality sector.

References
  • Expand for detailed references
    1. World Economic Forum (2020), The Global Risks Report 2020, available from  www.weforum.org
    2. United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 13, available from  www.un.org
    3. NASA (2020), NASA NOAA analyses reveal 2019 second warmest year on record, available from  www.nasa.gov
    4. UNWTO (2008), Climate Change and Tourism – Responding to global challenges, available from  www.unwto.org
    5. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (2017), Global Hotel Decarbonisation Report