Destination net-zero: what does the international energy agency roadmap mean for tourism?

Juli 2021

The tourism sector has recommitted itself to be ‘climate neutral’ by 2050 through its 2021 Glasgow Declaration: A Commitment to a Decade of Tourism Climate Action. The declared ambition is consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement and net-zero emission targets; however, lacks specific actions by which such a transition might be achieved. The highly influential International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced the most detailed global roadmap to a 2050 net-zero future. This paper examines its implications for the tourism sector. Getting to net-zero is imperative to ensure the societal disruption of a + 3 °C or warmer world are avoided, but the IEA net-zero scenario would nonetheless be as transformative for tourism as the internet was. International air travel and tourism growth projections from the tourism sector are not compatible with the IEA net-zero scenario. The geography of transition risk will influence tourism patterns unevenly. The incoherence of tourism and climate policy represents an increasing vulnerability for tourism development. While any business and destination in tourism can act immediately to reduce emissions, the findings compel a critical new research agenda to determine how the assumptions of the IEA, or any net-zero scenario, could be achieved and how this will affect tourism development.