COP26 – travel industry unites against climate change

Stay Connected


Latest Stories

The "Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism" unites the travel industry and will launch at COP26 on 4th November.  Here's how Australian travel operators can be part of the solution

(Photo: Greta Thunberg arriving at COP26 : @GretaThunberg on Twitter)

“The equation is simple: why would people travel to places where they will feel uncomfortable, vulnerable or in danger?”

What is the Glasgow Declaration?

Travel based activities across the planet contribute significantly towards global warming. CO2 emissions from tourism have been predicted to increase by 25% from 2016 levels by 2030 unless the sector unites to stop this happening.

The intent of the Glasgow Declaration is to urge and enable all travel and tourism stakeholders to sign and demonstrate, for the first time as a united sector, a shared voice and commitment to aligning the sector’s climate ambitions with scientific recommendations and international agreements. (Glasgow Declaration)

The United Nations World Travel Organisation in conjunction with its One Planet Network (and other groups) created the Glasgow Declaration to focus the travel industry for the next 10 years as it aims for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Signatories to the Declaration pledge to become carbon neutral before or by 2050. This video tells the story.

Why is it important for tourism to curb its impact on the climate?

As recent cataclysmic climate events have shown, tourism is especially vulnerable to climate change. As the United Nations says, we’re in uncharted territory for the world’s climate.  For example the huge bushfires that began 2 years ago in Australia had a major impact on tourism.

Accelerated frequency of  flooding, storms and extreme temperatures  — long predicted results of global warming — are now happening.

Another predicted result of climate change was increased transmission of diseases: Covid-19 may well be an example of how this can happen.

Travel is one of the first industries impacted by these events — the equation is simple: why would people travel to places where they will feel uncomfortable, vulnerable or in danger? The bigger the event the less travellers. Tourism loses.

Is the Australian travel industry threatened by climate change?

Australia is more vulnerable to climate change than most countries, in fact our temperatures are rising faster than the global average. This is already hitting travel.

For instance, one of the most obvious impacts on tourism in Australia is large-scale coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef caused by increasing water temperatures. The GBR is one of our greatest tourism drawcards yet over 50% of the reef was bleached in 2016-17. If we do nothing the reef will disappear as a $6bn tourism attraction somewhere between 2050 and the end of this century.

Our unique wildlife is also a big drawcard for tourism yet in the 2019-20 bushfires over 3 billion animals perished as potential travellers to Australia looked on and shuddered.

“Rebalancing our relationship with nature is critical to regenerating both its ecological health and our personal, social and economic well-being. It is also critical for tourism, which relies on and connects us with flourishing ecosystems”  (Glasgow Declaration)

These are only a few examples of the Australian travel industry’s exposure to critical economic and environmental risks from climate change

What can you do to help save travel in Australia?

Becoming a signatory to the Glasgow Declaration is a great first step. You’ll become part of an ever expanding global cohort of travel businesses that will give you support to plan your own strategy for reducing your own emissions.


Most importantly, any travel business can be involved. All that is asked of you is that you work over the next 12 months towards the 5 principles outlined in the Glasgow Declaration:

  1. Measure
  2. Decarbonise
  3. Regenerate
  4. Collaborate
  5. Finance

You can read and sign up to the “Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism” and will receive a detailed information package about what happens next.

Useful links that will help you feel part of global travel’s action on climate change

Sign the Declaration and join the launch online on 4th November

Read this: Echidna Walkabout Declares a Climate Emergency  – Echidna Walkabout is a signatory to the Glasgow Declaration

Join one of Echidna Walkabout’s conservation tours and give back to the planet

Discover We Mean Business Coalition , an independent global body made up of some of the world’s largest business that are fighting for action on climate change

See if your goals for sustainability fit with Green Destinations global concepts.

Read Conservation Travel Australia’s position on Climate Change

Help plant trees for the planet and wild koalas with Koala Clancy Foundation

Roger Smith

Roger Smith

Director Operations, co-founder and a senior wildlife guide with Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours. Passionate advocate for wildlife, biodiversity and wild places.