Bow-Tie Briefing – myth-buster of net-zero

30 August, 2021

According to the latest statistics from World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a devastating tragedy for millions of the world’s population and caused significant economic damage and major new government debt around the world. The post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery is emerging in a growing number of countries, with accelerating distribution of vaccines.

While pandemic uncertainties associated with travel restrictions, health risks and the economic recovery will continue to reshape corporate travel for the foreseeable future, there is optimism that a new appreciation for travel and renewed commitment to sustainable travel may emerge.

The pandemic has provided striking lessons to the tourism sector about the effects of global change and the urgent need to respond to the unfolding, and potentially far more devastating, climate crisis. In the forthcoming editions of Bow-Tie Briefing, I will be your myth-buster of Net-Zero.

Net-Zero is a concept that emerged in the climate/natural sciences and is expanding throughout the social sciences as the politics, economics and social dimensions of this historic societal transition are examined. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defined Net-Zero emissions as “achieved when anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere are balanced by anthropogenic removals over a specified period”.

Net-Zero has evolved from this technical concept to the new guiding ambition for climate policy and action. As of June 2021, over 130 countries, that collectively represent over 70% of global emissions, have committed to net zero targets. The timelines of Net-Zero pledges vary, with the large majority connected to the IPCC 2050 target, but some countries aim to reach their goal before 2050.

While Net-Zero pledges represent essential political ambition, to operationalise what would be one of the greatest transformations in human history remains a formidable task. In response, some countries such as Canada, France, New Zealand and UK have established independent Net-Zero commissions to advise on pathways with strategies and milestones to achieve it and foster a just transition regionally and across diverse segments of society.

Now that you have more understanding of the definition of Net-Zero, before the deeper dive discussion in our next edition, there are a few important stakeholders that you should be aware of:

  • The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) – it has linked the pandemic to the global decline in emissions of greenhouse gases and concluded that: “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”.
  • The pivotal Paris Climate Agreement (UN 2015) represents the commitment of 195 signatory countries to avoid the dangerous consequences of anthropogenic climate change by limiting global warming to “well below 2 °C” and aiming for a target of 1.5 °C warming above pre-industrial levels.
  • The highly influential International Energy Agency (IEA) which is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organisation established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It has produced the most detailed global roadmap to a 2050 net-zero future.

As a preview, in the next bow-tie briefing, we will discuss in detail the IEA roadmap to Net-Zero by 2050, please stay tuned. 😊

Bow-Tie Briefing shares the views of Benson Tang, a corporate travel thought leader and executive director of the CTC –Corporate Travel Community. Benson’s remarkable career in travel started more than 25 years ago and his extensive knowledge of the corporate travel sector has made him a sought-after speaker and lecturer.