A decade of transformation lies ahead. Climate change is an urgent problem – for politics, business, for every one of us. The world's heads of state and governments are meeting in Glasgow now for the international UN Climate Change Conference COP26. They will be looking for joint solutions to limit the effects of climate change, to protect the environment and communities, and mobilise the financial resources needed to do so. Climate change is not a challenge that politicians can solve alone. The economy – and thus every company – has a decisive role to play in the transformation to a more energy-efficient and low-carbon future. And of course, TUI also sees its own responsibility in this and will make its contribution. I see the opportunities of this transformation – and we want to play an active role in shaping it. As TUI we can build on many things where we have set the pace when it comes to the environment and sustainability as well as the development of destinations. This should encourage us to seize the opportunities, especially now.
Sustainability has three dimensions: Environmental, Social, Economic
Tourism is a crucial global economic factor. It connects people and cultures, every tenth employee worldwide works in the travel and tourism industry. In many parts of the world, tourism is the most important factor in promoting development and prosperity. It creates jobs, provides education and improves social and environmental standards. It is these positive effects of tourism that need to be preserved and developed – and at the same time we need to significantly reduce our environmental footprint, especially CO2 emissions. In Glasgow, the environmental aspect of sustainability is – quite rightly – in focus. However, a holistic approach to sustainability for the tourism industry must include social and economic perspectives. Higher social standards in most countries of the world also lead to more awareness of the environment and the challenges of our time.
The travel and tourism industry together contributes to about five per cent of global CO2 emissions, half of which are from air travel. We have been working for 30 years to reduce the environmental impact of our airline, cruise, hotel, office and travel agency operations. To do this, we have not only made changes to our offerings and operations, but also invested in state-of-the-art aviation and cruise technologies to reduce emissions. TUI was a pioneer in tourism 30 years ago with the first sustainability department - and we want to continue to play this leading role in sustainability in the future.
A new sustainability agenda for TUI is in preparation
Our sustainability team is working intensively on TUI's new Sustainability Agenda. Important preliminary work has already been done in recent months. Now we are in discussions on what is probably the biggest challenge for all industries: how to reduce emissions as far as possible and by when this will be achievable. We have extensive discussions on this in the Group Executive Committee, also with our experts from the sustainability team and teams in the business units. As in the past, the Sustainability Agenda must be closely interlinked with the operational business. Because we want, and we have to, deliver what we develop and promise as an industry and as TUI. As a tourism company with our own hotels, cruise ships, aircraft and travel agencies, we take a very close look at which goals can be achieved when for each area and what we are driving forward together as an industry. TUI has been a pioneer in making tourism more sustainable in the past - and we want to fulfil this role in achieving the climate targets as well. We want to achieve real reductions in emissions. We see off-setting (which basically means buying certificates to compensate for emissions we have made) as a last resort. Our first priority is reduction and avoidance. This builds on the fact that we very consciously evaluate "sustainability" in every business decision, especially in innovation and investments such as our aircraft fleet, ships or the energy supply for our hotels. This makes our approach more ambitious, but also more effective in the long term in terms of true sustainability.
A decade of sustainable transformation for TUI
The Sustainability Agenda will accelerate TUI's sustainable transformation over the next ten years. We will continue to focus on significantly reducing our environmental footprint. In doing so, we are targeting not only our emissions, but also water, energy and waste. With our Sustainability Agenda, we want to be a pioneer for the sustainable development of the tourism industry. I invite you to actively participate in the implementation in your area – and thus become a real "changemaker" for sustainability. Because an effective sustainability strategy framework needs not only the clear commitment of the Group Executive Committee, but also the support of all employees.
Here are three of the initiatives to drive our contribution to a more sustainable tourism. You can look forward to more details in the coming weeks and months:
- Transparency: We are working with the Science Based Targets initiative, which involves renowned organisations such as UN Global Compact and WWF. The initiative supports us in drawing up the roadmaps to become a Net Zero Company based on the latest scientific findings and involving external climate experts in this process. This provides transparency and ensures that we make an effective contribution to achieving the climate goals. Data, facts and scientific findings are the basis.
- Lighthouse project for sustainable destinations: The sustainable transformation of our industry will only succeed if we think in terms of value chains and include holiday destinations as genuine partners in our plans. That is why TUI works together with a destination to shape the sustainable holiday destination of the future. From education to mobility and from waste avoidance to green energy – in a multi-year project and numerous individual initiatives, we are showing what sustainability can look like locally. I am looking forward to presenting the overall project to you soon and to developing the sustainable destination of the future. We want to share our findings and experiences with others and later transfer them to other destinations. This will be a blueprint and promising model project.
- "Sustainability Academy" for a generation of changemakers: The global challenge of climate change can only be met through joint action. Everyone can make a contribution - in the company and as individuals. That's why we will launch a digital "Sustainability Academy" where you can get new skills, find information and further education on the topic of sustainability. There you will find background information, challenges for TUI and concrete tips for a more sustainable lifestyle and more. The Sustainability Academy will also be made available to all our hotel partners. In this way, we support the sustainable transformation of numerous small or medium-sized hotels and other businesses all over the world.
This is a first look at topics on our Sustainability Agenda. You will receive more details on these and other focus topics in the future. Our goal is to shape sustainability in the three dimensions environmental, social and economic, together with our partners in the tourism industry.
We have already achieved a lot!
Today, I would not only like to give you a first outlook on the future of our sustainability commitment, but also to thank you for what we have achieved so far. I think we have something to show for it. At the same time, these successes should motivate us to continue our work for a more sustainable tourism. Let me give you some figures:
- Since 2008, we have reduced relative CO2 emissions at TUI Airline by almost 14%.
- Our airlines are among the most environmentally efficient in the world - ranking first and fourth among the world's 200 largest airlines in terms of CO2 efficiency.
- TUI's cruise business has been made more sustainable with ecologically advanced cruise ships.
- We have achieved a 13.6% reduction in relative CO2 emissions and a 60% reduction in fresh water consumption on our cruise ships (since 2015).
- 83% of TUI Hotels & Resorts now have sustainability certification, resulting in tangible environmental improvements (10% less CO2, 24% less waste volume and 23% more green energy in certified hotels vs non-certified).
- 22% less CO2 emissions in our offices and travel agencies (since 2015).
- We have removed 257 million pieces of single-use plastic – e.g. 27 million pieces at our airlines, 31 million pieces at our cruises and 197 million pieces at our hotels.
I see the sustainability transformation as an opportunity for TUI, for the destinations and the tourism industry. It will require an enormous effort from all of us to achieve the climate targets – and here in particular the extensive reduction of emissions. This should spur us all to set ambitious targets and work together as an industry to achieve them. As in the past, TUI will live up to its role as a pioneer for more sustainable tourism. I cordially invite you, dear colleagues, to get involved. Together we can tackle the challenges and remove obstacles – for more sustainable holiday for our guests.
Let us shape this decade of sustainable transformation together!