WTTC panel weighs in on climate change, net zero emissions: Travel Weekly

A panel of travel industry executives said today that carbon neutrality will only be achieved with government regulations and the realignment of investor interests.

During the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual meeting to address the environment as part of Climate Week NYC, Elie Maalouf, CEO of the Americas for IHG, said reaching net zero requires collaboration not just from science and private industry, but from government and energy producers.

“I don’t think any of us will get there without decarbonization of the grid,” he said. “We can be as efficient as possible in our properties but the energy that we acquire for those properties has to be heavily decarbonized around the world for us to be able to achieve this target.”

Gilda Perez-Alvarado, global CEO of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, said that hoteliers are not incentivized to make properties climate-friendly because of the “misalignment between the investment horizon and the realization of this benefit in the longer term.”

With most hotel owners looking at an investment horizon of three to five years, she said, “making monetary commitments to address climate change is very expensive and it eats into their returns …. That’s the reality.”

This is especially true in the U.S., Perez-Alvarado said, as opposed to in Europe, where people are generally more conscientious about the environment and where there is consumer demand for climate-friendly products. And, she said, “most of the investment community collectively has come together to think about this …. There is more education around the topic and most importantly, a lot of financing that is very favorable for building and business engaging in sustainable practices.”

Alex Zozaya, chairman of Apple Leisure Group, agreed and said that hotels need to be guided by regulation.

“We should end up doing the right thing not only because it’s the right thing, but because the law tells us to do that,” he said. “It should be illegal to do some things that have higher carbon emission and affect the planet, even if it’s more expensive.”

He said the main impediments are a lack of alignment around how to collectively address these issues, and not just in the travel industry.

“Not even within the G-20,” he said, adding that having the U.S. back in the Paris Accords will help.

Hopefully, he said, with more people caring about climate change, it will also mean more money for those companies.

“If not based on conscience, then based on the law and for the money,” he said. “It will become a better business if it’s more environmentally friendly.”

The “Net Zero Travel & Tourism: From Ambition to Action” panel was moderated by Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann.

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Coronavirus live updates: Johnson & Johnson covid vaccine reviewed by FDA panel

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has a message for people opposed to vaccines or hesitant about the shots: One is not amused.

Her Majesty spoke out for the first time about getting a “jab,” as she called it. In a video call with British health officials leading the vaccination rollout effort, the monarch said that getting the vaccine was “very quick” and “didn’t hurt at all.”

“Once you’ve had the vaccine, you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important,” she said.

She also urged people to think about others. “It is obviously difficult for people if they’ve never had a vaccine … but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves.”

The video call was released to the media on Thursday evening and featured on many of the front pages of British newspapers Friday.

It is rare for the queen to publicly weigh in on issues of public health. But on the subject of vaccines, she has a history of support. In 1957, amid concerns about a new vaccine introduced to combat polio, the queen let it be known that her children, Charles and Anne, then 8 and 6, had received vaccinations.

Last month, the queen, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, were given their shots by a royal household doctor at Windsor Castle. (Philip is now in a London hospital, where he is being treated for an infection unrelated to coronavirus.)

Britain has reported high vaccine participation, but there are concerns about uptake in specific groups, including minorities and health-care staff.

Some suggested that remarks from the queen could help to sway the vaccine-hesitant.

David Salisbury, former director of immunization at Britain’s Department of Health, told the BBC that her intervention was “hugely helpful … to say so clearly, that there are two beneficiaries from immunization, there’s yourself and there’s other people.”

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