Transforming Tourism for Climate Action

Transforming Tourism for Climate Action

Climate Action

The Glasgow Declaration was officially launched at COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. It proposes a coordinated plan for tourism to support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050 and requests signatories to make tangible commitments around planning, measuring and reporting.

Find out about the Glasgow Declaration

The tourism sector is highly vulnerable to climate change and at the same time contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), which cause global warming. Accelerating climate action in tourism is therefore of utmost importance for the resilience of the sector. Climate action is understood as the efforts to measure and reduce GHG emissions and strengthen adaptive capacity to climate induced impacts.1

There is a growing consensus among tourism stakeholders as to how the future resilience of tourism will depend on the sector’s ability to embrace a low carbon pathway and cut emissions by 50% by 2030

According to UN Tourism/ITF latest research, released in December 2019 at UNFCCC COP25, CO2 emissions from tourism are forecasted to increase by 25% by 2030 from 2016 levels, against the current ambition scenario. The report provides insights into the evolution of tourism demand across the different global regions from 2016 to 2030 and presents transport-related CO2 emissions for the period. In 2016, transport-related emissions from tourism contributed to 5% of all man-made emissions and were set to increase to 5,3% by 2030 against a current ambition scenario. 

Find Transport-related CO2 Emissions of the Tourism Sector - Modelling

Therefore, the need to scale up climate action in tourism is of utmost importance, especially even more now that the sector has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2023 reaching 88% levels of the international tourist arrivals in 2019. The cost of inaction with regards to climate will be in the long run larger than the cost of any other crisis.

UN Tourism is committed to accelerate progress towards low carbon tourism development and the contribution of the sector to international climate goals by: 

  • Strengthening the measurement and disclosure of CO2 emissions in tourism
  • Accelerating the decarbonization of tourism operations
  • Engaging the tourism sector in adaptation and carbon removal

In order to support the tourism stakeholders to advance on measuring their GHG emissions, in March 2023, UN Tourism published the report on CLIMATE ACTION IN TOURISM SECTOR: AN OVERVIEW OF METHODOLOGIES AND TOOLS TO MEASURE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. The report was developed with support from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection of Germany (BMU) and released in collaboration with UN Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Read the full report here.

In order to support National Tourism Administrations, in March 2024 UN Tourism launched the Policy Guidance with support from the UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) and technical support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Policy Guidance has been developed to assist governmental agencies dedicated to tourism in the development of tourism climate action policies and initiatives to support the low-carbon transition for tourism. This policy guidance provides examples of good practice from around the world to illustrate how NTAs can implement climate-enabling policy and other initiatives as well as benefit from climate initiatives in other sectors. The policy guidance is complemented by a Glasgow Declaration signatory Pack for NTAs which provides practical recommendations on how to get started with climate action.



The Glasgow Declaration: A Commitment to a Decade of Climate Action in Tourism

The Glasgow Declaration aims to act as a catalyst for increased urgency about the need to accelerate climate action in tourism and to secure strong actions and commitment.

The signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism are committing to act now and accelerate climate action to support the global goals of cutting emissions by at least a half over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.  Signatories of the Glasgow Declaration are developing climate plans aligned with 5 pathways: measure, decarbonize, regenerate, collaborate, finance, and reporting progress on an annual basis.

UN Tourism outlined the collective progress with the first Glasgow Declaration Implementation Report (2023).The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism Implementation Report 2023 presents the results of a systematic review of all progress updates received from signatories during the first reporting exercise conducted between January and June 2023 (over 400 updates), which in many cases include the submission of a Climate Action Plan. The report represents a first-of-its-kind picture of the rapidly developing engagement of the tourism sector with the challenges of climate action.


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Participation at UN Climate Change Conferences of the Parties (COP)

Since 2019, COP25, UN Tourism has been participating on an annual basis to the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to position the important role that the tourism sector can play to support international climate goals.

Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism

Related links

1. View Goal 13 Targets
2 Carbon Brief
3. Cut Global Emissions by 7.6 Percent Every Year for Next Decade to Meet 1.5°C Paris Target - UN Report