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Reasons for hotel companies to track and report on their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria and achievements are growing.

Ninety-three percent of investors include ESG criteria in their decision making. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) found that 75 percent of frequent travelers are interested in its hotels’ sustainability, and Marriott International noted in 2019 that $3 billion worth of corporate business contracts required the company to provide carbon and water footprint data.

So the impetus is there, but reducing emissions will be a steep climb.

Environmental sustainability today tends to be framed around the premises agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, where in 2015 195 countries agreed to keep the global average temperature rise below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to keep it as close to 1.5℃ as possible.

For the hotel industry, which accounts for about a fifth of all travel-related greenhouse gas emissions, research by the International Tourism Partnership found that emissions per room per year need to be reduced by 66 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2010 levels.

Hotel companies increasingly set emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, and more are filing progress reports with the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). For our latest report, Sustainability in Travel 2021: Emissions Benchmark of Six Global Hotel Companies, Skift Research has used company and CDP filings of Marriott International, Hilton Hotels, Accor, IHG, Hyatt Hotels, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts to establish a benchmark for their environmental performance.

What we found is that Accor stands out as the top performer amongst its peers, setting strict targets and already having lower-than-benchmarked emissions per room. Hyatt is the largest polluter per room, while Marriott is the highest polluter overall. However, when benchmarked, Wyndham stands out as emitting more per room than expected based on their room portfolio.

The report highlights a number of shortcomings and key takeaways to help the hospitality industry move forward in their promise of reducing their carbon footprint.

Last week, we published our latest Skift Research report, Sustainability in Travel 2021: Emissions Benchmark of Six Global Hotel Companies. Below, we share a snippet of the report.

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Emissions by Ownership Model

Using CDP filings, we can determine which companies are the largest polluters. Marriott clearly stands out as the top polluter, emitting almost 12 million metric tonnes of CO2e in 2019. Hyatt is the least polluting company at just over two million metric tonnes.

Marriott, of course, has a much larger portfolio than Hyatt, which will account at least in part for this discrepancy.

In the CDP reports, hotel companies provide total Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which relate to the owned, leased, and managed (OLM) rooms, and Scope 1 and 2 emissions for franchised hotels, registered as Scope 3 emissions. Using this data together with room portfolio data, we can calculate the average emissions per room.

Here again is a wide spread in the environmental performance of the different companies, with Marriott registering the highest CO2e emissions per OLM room, and Hyatt the highest emissions per franchised room. Hyatt has the highest emissions per room overall.

In comparison, at almost two-thirds less emissions compared to the highest emitters, Accor is a strong performer in both OLM and franchised room emissions. Wyndham does not provide data for franchised hotel emissions.

We can, however, take this comparison a step further. One of the most important factors is the chain scale of the rooms in each company’s portfolio. A closer comparison can be made when taking this into account.

Subscribe to read the full report and find out how the companies compare when chain scales are considered.

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