Africa’s giant leap in lowering its climate footprint

Between 2010 and 2019 the African travel and tourism sector separated its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions – with data showing the total contribution to Africa’s GDP grew on average 2.6% annually, whilst greenhouse gas emissions increased by just 1.2% during the same period.

This is according to figures detailing the climate footprint of the tourism sector in Africa that were recently revealed from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center.

The data also demonstrated how the sector’s emissions intensity continues to decrease.

In 2010, for every $1 of the region’s travel and tourism GDP, the sector emitted 1.45kg of greenhouse gas emissions.

But by 2019, when travel and tourism was at its peak on the continent, this figure dropped by more than 11% to 1.29kg.

According to the WTTC report, this significant decline demonstrates the progress of changes implemented by governments and business leaders across Africa to create a more sustainable sector.

In the same year, the sector was responsible for an average of just 6.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions across Africa.

One of the largest research projects

In one of the largest research projects of its kind ever undertaken, the WTTC can, for the first time ever, accurately report and track the impact industries within the sector have on the environment.

This comprehensive research covers 185 countries across all regions and will be updated each year with the latest figures.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, said: “We can now give governments across Africa the comprehensive information they need to make significant steps towards the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We know there is still work to be done. To reach our goals and ambitions, we must make bigger and bolder steps to reduce our absolute emissions.

“And for this we need government support in accelerating the production of sustainable aviation fuels, which will have a significant impact on our footprint as well as bringing in more renewable energy to our national grids.”

The global findings were launched at the WTTC’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November last year.

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