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‘Net-zero’ goals encouraged by top tourism academic

Friday 25 March 2022 3:44pm

New Zealand tourism leaders should introduce and accelerate ‘net-zero carbon’ tourism practices aiming for a net-zero economy by 2050, together with a ‘green’ pandemic recovery plan, a Canadian tourism expert urges.

Speaking at the University of Otago Tourism Policy School today, Professor Daniel Scott from the University of Waterloo says the country must build resilience for whatever disruption may come next, whether it be another pandemic or climate change.

One of the best ways to do this would be through ‘net-zero’ pledges, where climate action is accelerated by businesses who commit to reducing emissions by at least 50 per cent over the next decade, he says.

Achieving net-zero goals in tourism will largely mean restructuring air travel and Professor Scott shared a roadmap of how this could be achieved.

It included shifting 50 per cent of aviation fuel to sustainable bio and synthetic alternatives by 2040, transitioning short-haul domestic flights to electric as aviation technologies allow, shifting regional flights under an hour to rail and other low carbon alternatives where possible, and demanding that airlines reduce emissions by 80 per cent from what was recorded in 2019, as these emissions represent 10 per cent of unabated global emissions in 2050.

Professor Scott discussed how environmental health and human health are one in the same, with investments in conservation efforts not only being ethical, but also cost-effective solutions to the issues that the tourism industry is facing.

“Global environmental change is and will continue to transform tourism in the decades ahead,” Professor Scott says.

“We have an important responsibility to contribute to future pandemic resilience and reshape tourism so that it is compatible with the net-zero economy of mid-century.

“If we fail on these grand challenges, we cannot succeed on sustainable tourism.”

The fourth annual University of Otago Tourism Policy School is a two-day event bringing together a wide array of policymakers, business leaders, industry organisations and tourism academics to discuss key challenges and opportunities confronting the New Zealand tourism industry.

This year’s theme is ‘Structural Change for Regenerative Tourism', reflecting the view of the Minister of Tourism Hon Stuart Nash that structural change is required to rebuild tourism for the 21st century, following the global pandemic.

For more information, please contact:

Professor Daniel Scott
University Research Chair
University of Waterloo
Email daniel.scott@uwaterloo.ca
Note: Daniel Scott is based in the Eastern Time Zone

Molly Houseman
Communications Adviser, Media Engagement
University of Otago, Dunedin
Mob +64 21 279 5016
Email molly.houseman@otago.ac.nz