The Sunday Times (30 Apr 2023) quoted Professor John Sweeney, Maynooth University, as stating that in his opinion in Ireland….“The only good thing to come out of global warming would be a potential bump in tourism in the short term and an extension of the shoulder season…”
The ST also noted within its Climate section, Barometer, Etihad Grounded (30 April 2023) that the International Civil Aviation Organisation forecasted that international aviation emissions could triple by 2050 compared to 2015.
In response to the first article some industry leaders effectively welcomed this opportunity and caveated it with statements about sustainability…..“…we’re known as the green nation, but we have to make sure we live up to that in terms of delivering on the ground” and “We’re always mindful of the obligations that we have for sustainability. So as long as our progress is regenerative and sustainable, that we’re evaluating all the times how we can do things better, and that we remain on track to meet our climate action goals, like the rest of the world – I suppose we will adapt and change”
This is where we are at: Global warming will make Ireland a more attractive tourism destination, the current targets for Irish Tourism are for unchecked growth, tourism growth in Ireland is underpined by air traffic arrivals/departures, combined this will increase the absolute carbon footprint of Irish Tourism.
The Climate Action Plan 2023 requires Tourism to reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 35% by 2030, based on 2018 absolute emissions (The important word is “absolute”) (Note: At present the tourism sector in Ireland does not accept any responsibility for the carbon emissions of air travel)
How are we squaring this? What are our policies and actions? What hard inititatives are in place to ensure we meet our targets – not just words?
On the 21st April Ireland reached our Overshoot Day – the day when the annual natural regenerative capacity of the world would be exhausted if every nation lived to our standard of living. There are only 18 other countries worse than us!
Are we doing enough – is it acceptable that we plan to benefit from Global warming whilst taking little/no action?
GHP believes that we need a real national discussion and we need to address the real issues facing us and agree a real action driven plan with real measurement and real penalties for failure. Growth in tourism must only happen if it is net-zero carbon neutral from inception, or we are only increasing the future burden to existing businesses. We need to stop the bland words and knuckle down with hard actions – or, we need to come up with some really good marketing slogans that hide our inaction and wrap the “Green” image around what we do – highlight some one-off actions and pretend that Ireland is one of the worlds most sustainable destinations – or is that Greenwashing?
I leave you with Professor Sweeneys published thoughts…..“Essentially we will be in carbon debt to the rest of the world and relying on them to pay for our failures”
We welcome your feedback and thoughts on this issue – A few questions that might start you off:
Is there a Carbon Reduction Plan in place for Irish Tourism that meets the legal requirements of the 2023 Climate Action Plan?
Is growing tourism a truly sustainable target, without mitigating any emissions increases, at the very least?
Should the Tourism Sector accept responsibility for any aviation emissions?