The recently concluded COP28 summit in Dubai marked a turning point in global efforts to combat climate change. 

World leaders from nearly 200 countries reached an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels, emphasising a “just, orderly, and equitable” approach.

The summit, scheduled from November 30 to December 12, 2023, extended by a day, attracted attention due to its controversial location in the United Arab Emirates, one of the top oil-producing nations.

Fossil fuel transition and global targets

For the first time in COP history, countries acknowledged the imperative to shift from fossil fuels in energy systems. The agreement set global targets, aiming to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030. 

However, the absence of a specific timescale and the lack of a commitment to “phase out” fossil fuels disappointed some, including the US, UK, EU, and climate-vulnerable nations.

COP28 unfolded at a critical juncture, considering the urgency to limit long-term global temperature rises to the agreed-upon 1.5°C target set in COP21. Despite warnings that the world is on track for 2.7°C warming by 2100, COP28’s outcome offers some hope. The summit’s success will ultimately be measured by the tangible changes implemented globally in the years ahead.

While some critics argue that previous COPs engaged in “greenwashing,” the global agreements emerging from these summits have driven significant climate action. 

The COP28 deal, despite its compromises, emphasises the need for substantial changes in energy systems and technologies, underscoring the potential for transformative global initiatives.

Hotel industry events and agreements at COP28:

UNWTO showcases progress in Glasgow Declaration implementation

At COP28, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) presented the first Glasgow Declaration Implementation Report, highlighting advances in climate action in tourism. 

The declaration, featuring commitments from 857 signatories worldwide, aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The report showcased climate action plans submitted by 261 signatories, with 70% showcasing CO2 emissions measurement.

The hotel industry, a vital player in global tourism, has demonstrated its commitment to the Glasgow Declaration. The sector’s participation in COP28 emphasised the importance of aligning hospitality practices with climate action. As hotels worldwide face the imperative to reduce their carbon footprint, the Glasgow Declaration provides a framework for measurable and accountable progress.

Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s pathway to Net Positive Hospitality

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance unveiled an innovative digital version of the Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality at COP28.

This tool offers a clear roadmap for hospitality companies to accelerate their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) progress. With over 40 pages of comprehensive guidance, the pathway includes a Progress Tracker, allowing companies to measure and record their advancements.

The hotel industry, as a cornerstone of the broader hospitality sector, plays a pivotal role in the implementation of sustainable practices. By embracing the Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality, hotels can navigate the complex landscape of ESG initiatives, fostering a more resilient and environmentally conscious future.

As guests increasingly prioritise eco-friendly options, hotels that embrace sustainability will not only contribute to global climate goals but also enhance their market competitiveness.

Ambitious plans for Net Positive certification

In collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance announced plans for a new level of EDGE green building certification and Building Resilience Index. 

This certification, aligned with the Net Positive Hospitality framework, emphasises not only energy, water, and carbon measures but also climate resilience and biodiversity considerations. 

The hotel industry’s active involvement in initiatives like Net Positive Certification reflects a commitment to not just meeting environmental standards but surpassing them. As hotels adopt green building practices and integrate resilience and biodiversity considerations, they contribute to a more sustainable and responsible future for the entire hospitality sector.

Looking ahead

COP28’s agreements and industry-specific initiatives demonstrate a collective commitment to addressing climate change. As nations and industries strive to implement the outlined goals, the hotel and hospitality sector faces a transformative journey toward sustainability. 

The upcoming COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan, and COP30 in Brazil will play pivotal roles in shaping the trajectory of global climate action.

The hotel sector’s active participation in COP28 events signifies a shift towards sustainable practices. By embracing digital tools like the Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality and pursuing ambitious certifications, hotels are not only contributing to global climate goals but also setting a new standard for responsible and resilient hospitality practices. 

As the industry looks ahead, the collaboration between hotels and global climate initiatives is crucial for building a future where hospitality and environmental sustainability coexist harmoniously.