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The first steps towards more sustainable tourism 2/3

While more and more French people are giving up flying to go on holiday, the challenges of sustainable development are gradually integrating the different aspects of the tourism industry. Part Two: reducing carbon emissions, tomorrow's air is at stake.

NH is reducing its direct and indirect carbon footprint worldwide

According to a recent press release, the Spanish group stated that it had succeeded in reducing its carbon emissions by 67% since 2007. To this end, the hotel has rethought its electricity supply, by transforming 70% of the energy consumed into green energy, meaning from renewable sources.

However, the group is not stopping here. It will go even further to reduce its carbon impact by 2030, because as Rufino Pérez, Operations Director and Global Transformation Leader for NH Hotel Group, says, "now is the time to be even more ambitious with our sustainability targets". The new target is to further reduce these emissions by 20%, resulting in a total reduction of 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

For NH Hotels Group the pledge is to specifically cut its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions across its entire business chain. To do this it has partnered with international organizations, such as the international organization the CDP, United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature, to create "a global alliance aiming to mobilize the business world to act against climate change".

To this date, 141 hotels have been granted sustainability labels including Green Key, Hoteles+Verdes, ISO 14.001, ISO 50.001, BREEAM or LEED.As an example of the growth in certified hotels, 6 new units were awarded the Green Key label in 2018, namely NH Brussels Bloom and NH Brussels EU Berlaymont in Brussels (Belgium), NH Collection Mexico City Centro Histórico and NH Collection Guadalajara Providencia in Guadalajara (Mexico), NH The Lord Charles in Cape Town (South Africa), and NH Collection Eindhoven Centre in Eindhoven (Netherlands). A total of 46 establishments are now Green Key certified.

This commitment to transforming its properties to meet the environmental requirements of these eco-labels reflects the group's strategy to address these issues. Indeed, "Sustainability and environmental performance are a key pillars for NH Hotel Group" (Rufino Pérez) and are translated into concrete actions that will perhaps allow the hotel owner to be "carbon neutral" in the long term.

British Airways partners with the oil industry to create an environmentally friendly jet fuel refinery

Far from being limited to the hotel industry, the imperative of reducing GHG emissions runs through the entire tourism production chain. The various actors are thus committed, each in their own way, to finding solutions to reduce their emissions and thus contribute globally to the reduction of air pollution, which is the cause of the famous hole in the ozone layer. Often singled out as the most polluting actors, airlines are joining the movement, starting with British Airways.

The British company, owned by the holding company International Airlines Group (IAG), has reportedly found an ambitious solution to reduce its fossil energy consumption by 70%. Together with the oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and Altalto Immingham Limited, it plans to produce an environmentally friendly jet fuel refinery in the United Kingdom.

The idea is to recover solid household and commercial waste that cannot be recycled initially, to break it down through chemical processes, and then transform it into bio-fuel, which can be used in aviation. The aviation waste treatment plant would be located in Immingham, Lincolnshire (England), and managed by the two oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell and Altalto Immingham Limited. British Airways is committed to buying the bio-fuel produced by them for use in its aircraft.

This project is surprising as there are very few bio-fuel manufacturers on the market. Indeed, the production of the latter would be approximately three times more expensive than the production of traditional fuel, which is already costly. But for Alex Cruz, CEO of British Airways, bio-fuel is the resource of the future for aviation.

Alex Cruz explains the strategy of the airline:

This development is an important step in the reduction of our carbon emissions and meeting the industry targets of carbon neutral growth from 2020, and a 50% in CO2 reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels. It also brings the U.K. another step closer to becoming a global leader in sustainable aviation fuels.

It should also be recalled that this strategy is part of a broader, sector-wide strategy to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation in the coming years. On June 26th, the annual congress of the Airports Council International EUROPE (ACI EUROPE) was held, and it set the objective to produce no more carbon emissions by 2050, in other words to have "net zero carbon emissions". The various actors in aviation are therefore trying to align themselves with these environmental commitments expected from agents in the sector, whether for airports or airlines.

Green cruises, a reality thanks to cruise ships that are less polluting at sea

Finally, the cruise sector is also involves and is adopting green energy to lower GHG emissions as it is another sector with a reputation for being extremely polluting. For example, the ships owned by Carnival Corporation, one of the cruise line leaders worldwide, pollutes Europe's coastlines ten times more than 260 million automobiles in Europe in 2017, according to a study by the sustainable transport group, Transport & Environment.

Faig Abbasov, shipping policy manager at T&E, explains:

Luxury cruise ships are floating cities powered by some of the dirtiest fuel possible. Cities are rightly banning dirty diesel cars but they’re giving a free pass to cruise companies that spew out toxic fumes that do immeasurable harm both to those on board and on nearby shores.

And yet, some companies, aware of the imperative need to change, are developing alternatives to ultra-polluting fuels, as is happening in aeronautics. The French luxury cruise line PONANT has thus implemented the first hybrid propulsion polar exploration vessel, the Commandant-Charcot. This ship will take its first expeditions to the polar circle in 2021 and will be powered by a hybrid propulsion motor using LNG (liquefied natural gas) and electricity.

Liquefied natural gas is currently considered the cleanest fossil fuel, with a significantly reduced amount of CO² emissions, thus contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the cruise industry. Other companies have also decided to choose this solution, which is more expensive but more environmentally friendly. MSC Cruises is currently building its first LNG-powered ship in Saint-Nazaire, the W34, a giant ship with 2,632 cabins and suites for more than 6,000 passengers and 2,126 crew members. The ship is expected to be delivered in the spring of 2022.

In 2018, an LNG powered ship was put in the water, the AIDAnova by Costa. Built by the shipyard Meyer Werft of Papenburg (Germany), this cruise ship operates on LNG thanks to its dual fuel engines. 337 meters long and 42 meters wide, it has a capacity of 5,228 passengers and 1,500 crew members. Last May 9 it sailed the Mediterranean and made its first stopover in Marseille.

On this occasion, Georges Azouze, President of Costa Croisières France, declared:

Today, AIDA and Costa are inaugurating a new era for the cruise ship industry, of which sustainability os one of the most important pillars. In keeping with this, we are very pleased to welcome the Costa Smeralda in Marseille next fall.

The Costa Smeralda, another LNG powered ship, was expected to dock in the city on November 1, 2019, but its shipyard is behind schedule. Its inauguration, initially scheduled for the end of October, has been postponed to November 30, resulting in the cancellation of 5 cruises affecting some 7,000 clients.

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