Fiona Jeffery OBE, Founder and Chair of Just a Drop and Chair of the ITT Sustainability Committee, had the opportunity to speak at the 2022 Institute of Travel and Tourism Conference on the climate crisis the world is facing and the impact of the travel and tourism industry on this crisis:

"The travel and tourism industry is roughly responsible for 8% of the world's carbon emissions and it’s this growth of carbon emissions, as we continue to burn fossil fuels and consume the way we do, that is heating up the planet.

In 2020 we were already at 1 degree and we can already see the effects via hurricanes, floods, forest fires, droughts and increased extinctions of species.

The 2015 Paris Agreement nominally aims to hit 1.5 degrees or failing that 2 degrees.

Mark Lynas is a respected author on climate change and has reviewed hundreds of scientific papers to outline the likely effects of each degree of global warming in his book “Our Final Warning-6 degrees of global warming”

Lynas observes that based on the “business -as -usual” model we are likely to hit 2 degrees in the next 10 years, which will stress human society, lead to widespread fires, floods and droughts, destroy coral reefs and rainforests and increase the risk of hitting 3 degrees due to “tipping-points” such as an ice-free Arctic in the summer and melting mountain glaciers.

On this trajectory we are likely to hit 3 degrees in the 2050s and 60s this is within the lifetime of some people in this room. This is hotter than any experience of the human species and will destabilise civilisation because sea-level rises will force 100s of millions of people to relocate and there will be an ice free Arctic all year round.

It will increase desertification and cause failed harvests, famines, loss of water supplies and mass extinctions. By 2075 we could hit 4 degrees which will create the worse mass extinction in 10 million years.

I’m not scare mongering this is happening.

So the point is, unless we react now, we are sleep walking into our own destruction, and this is all happening on our watch and it is an existential threat. It won’t totally transform and disrupt our lives, but it will that of our children and grandchildren.

There is an urgent need to act, over the next 10 years, if we are to hope to reduce CO2 emissions in order to net zero by 2050. 

The good news is Lynas says there is just about time to improve things provided that we respond and change behaviours and expectations speedily."

It is absolutely mission critical that the travel industry plays its part. - Fiona Jeffery OBE