The United Nations World Tourism Organization has announced that it will try to make all travel, accommodation and activities related to a climate change conference it is staging in early October carbon neutral to set an example about the benefits of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions.
The three-day meeting in Davos, Switzerland, scheduled to begin on 1 October, is the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism. The results of that conference, and a subsequent ministerial summit in London on 13 November, will help formulate UNWTO's contribution to the strategy of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the critical negotiations under the UN Climate Change Convention in Bali, Indonesia, in December, the agency said in a press release issued yesterday from its headquarters in Madrid. Carbon offsetting is aimed at mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions –such as by participants at an international conference– and can involve such steps as tree planting or investing in renewable energy projects. UNWTO has asked all participants in the conference at Davos to register with carbon-offsetting organizations. It is also not charging a registration fee for the conference. UNWTO's Assistant Secretary-General Geoffrey Lipman said it was important for his agency, as the lead tourism body in the UN system, to promote responsible environmental behavior within the tourism industry. "We want to send a signal to our own industry that carbon offsetting is easy and that it will make a real difference over time, along with adaptation, mitigation and new technology," Mr. Lipman said. "We also want to encourage a trend in the sector that carbon offset schemes will be used eventually by all meetings and events. Responding to the climate challenge will require substantial structural changes and take many years to implement, but there are some things we can do immediately." Established in January 1976, UNWTO serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and as a practical source of tourism know-how for governments, institutions and the private sector. Its aim is to promote the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.