Whether by regulatory imperatives or the increasingly vocal demands of environmentally conscious consumers, being sustainable is no longer optional for hotel groups. But while many have claimed they’ve committed to going green, better metrics need to be in place to truly quantify the positive impact of these sustainability efforts.

“If we look at the projected growth of the sector, we need to make a 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions to stay within the thresholds which were agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement,” Fran Hughes, director of International Tourism Partnership (ITP) tells SkiftX. “So, that’s a huge gap that needs to be closed. This really stresses the urgency of action on climate change. We can’t just look at efficiency targets anymore, which are not based in science—it’s just not credible if we want to grow as a sector.”

“We do feel that tourism brings many benefits,” he went on the explain. “It is a force for good, but we have to decouple that growth in the sector from a growth in emissions.”

Source: ITP Hotel Decarbonisation Report

Rethinking the industry response to sustainability

According to Hughes, the industry needs to rethink its response to sustainability. “If you look at a lot of current reporting, it’s not that great because you can say X company is committing to make a reduction of 20 percent on its water use by 2025… Well that sounds good. … But we actually don’t know whether that’s good or not unless you have a clear understanding of what the baseline is”, says Hughes. “Is the baseline high or low? Twenty percent could be very ambitious or quite weak, depending on how you look at it.”

According to ITP’s recent Hotel Decarbonisation Report, the global hotel industry will need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per room per year by 66 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050. Failure to do so could prove to be “catastrophic,” according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which lists impacts such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and wildfires likely.

Of the 66 percent emission reduction needed, half of that will be achieved by the hotels themselves through energy efficiency, renewable energy and other mitigation mechanisms.

To achieve that goal, more collaboration and knowledge sharing will be vital. ITP is taking strides to unify its growing membership of 25,000 hotels around this mission, which will allow both big hotel chains and smaller independents to contribute equally.

“You have the international giants like IHG, Marriott, Hilton and Wyndham sitting on the same table as smaller regional chains. There’s enormous value in this interaction between big and small,” says Wolfgang Neuman, Chairman of ITP and Board Director of Carlson Rezidor hotel group. “It may be the global headquarters who defines the overall strategy, but the execution is at hotel level. That’s where the rubber hits the road.”

Learn more about ITP’s Goals for 2030 and its aim to unite the hotel industry for a sustainable future here.

This content was created collaboratively by ITP and Skift’s branded content studio SkiftX.

Photo Credit: The Frankfurt Radisson Blu installed a fuel cell CHP (Combined Heat and Power) which generates up to 80% of the hotel’s required energy.