The Future of Travel: Climate Edition by Hena Sharma

The Future of Travel: Climate Edition

COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference, kicks off this week, bringing together world leaders and experts on climate change in Glasgow. This year’s conference is considered to be crucial to the climate emergency, and will dictate whether the crisis will truly be brought under control with preventative measures and policies.

We're proud to introduce The Future of Travel: Climate Edition. A series which champions the voices of those not often represented at major conferences like COP26 and aims to create conversations around how the travel industry adds to the issue of climate change, but will also be significantly affected by it.

Travel’s links to climate change

As a travel platform focused on helping our audience travel with more purpose, we understand the significant contribution the travel and tourism industry has on the climate crisis. Tourism alone is responsible for 8-12% of the world’s carbon emissions, primarily through aviation. Our travel behaviour has the ability to impact all life on this planet; our ecosystems, our communities worldwide. In reality, the very destinations that we (as Westerners) rely on most for tourism are often the worst affected.

Increased economic development and affordability has made travel even more accessible, with this percentage set to rise. To put this into context, a flight from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger. Today, the effects of climate change are no longer unnoticeable. They have manifested in catastrophic weather events; from hurricanes and wildfires to tornadoes on London’s doorstep.

Akpatok Island lies in Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, Canada
Akpatok Island lies in Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, Canada

Being better travellers

There are a few ways we can go about travelling better socially and environmentally.

At Trippin, we encourage our community to think about their individual actions -- whether that’s through packing a light suitcase, shopping locally when abroad, carbon offsetting or volunteering. Travelling sustainably socially, environmentally and economically ties deeply into Trippin’s ethos and is a priority of many young travellers today.

We are aware, though, that true and long lasting change comes from industrial regulation. Small actions are essential and important, but if we aim to be carbon neutral by 2050, more drastic measures need to be taken. This is something that has been noticed by world leaders. The ‘Glasgow Declaration Climate Action in Tourism’ is set to launch at this year’s COP26 conference. The declaration has been developed by a collaborative group of leading organisations who urgently call for a decade of climate action in tourism.

The Glasgow Declaration states: “A just transition to Net Zero before 2050 will only be possible if tourism’s recovery accelerates the adoption of sustainable consumption and production, and redefines our future success to consider not only economic value but rather the regeneration of ecosystems, biodiversity and communities.” It is encouraging to see the Glasgow Declaration and that more coordinated plans for tourism climate action are being presented at COP26.

Travel isn’t going anywhere

The tourism industry is complex -- it’s climate impacts but potential for positive change make the creation of an industry-specific ‘Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency’ initiative an absolute necessity. It is not as simple as telling people to stop taking flights and halting travel abroad. Travelling has a multitude of benefits for both the traveller and local communities. It creates cultural exchange, has the unique ability to connect people from all walks of life and provides financial stability to so many.

That being said, change is needed and fast. Our community is suffering from climate anxiety too with over 85% expressing that their mental health has been affected by this. Governments and players within the travel industry are under-serving us and we are craving change.

With COP26 in full swing, we will be closely watching the commitments governments have for our future and the future of travel. Over the next two weeks, Trippin will be highlighting the countries and communities that have been worst affected by the climate crisis, sharing their voices and first-person perspectives. We also, in our coverage, outline how exactly you can do your part to be a better, more conscious traveller.

Stay tuned.


Photography kindly provided from a collection of images from the United States Geological Survey

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