COP 28 hotel news roundup

by: Felicity Cousins | December 18, 2023

WORLDWIDE: COP 28 saw layers of collaboration and brave promises made, along with the revival of hope, ending with nearly 200 countries agreeing to reduce the global use of fossil fuels. Here is a short roundup of some key stories from the hotel industry during that week in Dubai.

New level of EDGE green building certification

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), unveiled plans for a new level of EDGE green building certification and Building Resilience Index. The aim is to leverage the IFC’s building certification programmes in the Alliance’s Net Positive Hospitality framework. EDGE offers a measurable and credible solution that proves the business case for building green and unlocks financial investment. It is supported by free software with solutions to reduce energy, water, and embodied carbon in building materials by at least 20 per cent. EDGE currently offers three levels of certification, EDGE Certified, EDGE Advanced, and EDGE Zero Carbon.

All sector stakeholders – developers, building owners, banks, insurers, governments – can use the Building Resilience Index to assess, improve, finance, and disclose the resilience of their projects or portfolios. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and IFC have said they will use EDGE and Building Resilience Index as a common standard to help recognise those making progress on the hospitality-specific ‘Net Positive’ framework developed by the Alliance. The new certification will include not only energy, water, and carbon measures, but also climate resilience and biodiversity considerations, including the creation of a biodiversity management plan and the provision of spaces appropriate for native wildlife.

Hilton trials food waste management system

Hilton announced during COP 28 it had made a 62 per cent reduction in food waste after its four month Green Breakfast initiative – a food waste pilot which has taken place across 13 hotels in the UAE. The partnership with Winnow and ne’ma, the UAE national food loss and waste initiative, has recorded a 62 per cent reduction in pre- and post-consumer food waste across breakfast operations in a four month period. Read more here.

UNWTO presents Glasgow Declaration progress report

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) chose last week to present the first Glasgow Declaration Implementation Report, which showcased progress the tourism sector has made on climate action. More than 857 signatories have committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and UNWTO’s report showed some of the plans submitted by those who are making changes. This included 70 per cent who are measuring their CO2 emissions. The hotel industry has no excuse with the Glasgow Declaration offering a framework for measurable and accountable progress.

Alliance unveils digital pathway to Net Positive Hospitality

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance unveiled its digital version of the Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality. We reported this story here.

WTTC launches Water Roadmap for Travel & Tourism

The report, which was launched during COP 28 revealed the total water intensity used by the global travel and tourism is decreasing even as the sector continues to grow. Travel & Tourism’s water usage ranged between 3.5 per cent and 5.8 per cent of global available freshwater, in 2021 and 2019 respectively. While this is a lower share than other sectors, such as agriculture and food, which accounted for 70 per cent of global water usage, the WTTC says water scarcity has become one of the most pressing challenges for sustainable development. Today, more than 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, while 4.2 billion do not have access to safe sanitation services. The report highlights that further progress can be made if Travel & Tourism stakeholders take a series of actions, and sustainable water practices are implemented globally.

WTTC worked with Accenture and Oxford Economics to provide a framework to help the global travel and tourism sector set water targets, reduce their water footprint and increase water resilience. The data is a result of to the partnership between WTTC and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Centre.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said: “Water scarcity is a pressing global issue that requires collective action. Travel & Tourism, with its unique influence and global reach, is perfectly positioned to play a pivotal role in fostering sustainable water practices.

“With this report, we aim to inspire a transformative journey toward responsible water use and a regenerative future, accelerating progress towards achieving SDG 6.”

The report also notes embracing digital technologies becomes not just an option but an innovative approach to tackle complexity head-on. It also introduces the Water Management Action Framework, rejecting a ‘one-size fits all’ solution, outlining four key steps, emphasising water footprint reduction and resilience building across supply chains. The framework will help guide Travel & Tourism stakeholders on a path to sustainability, emphasising science-based targets, internal prioritisation, appropriate funding and collaborative measures for a resilient future. The full report can be read here.

Millennium Hotels & Resorts unveiled its Millennium Green Path Brand Playbook

Aligned with COP 28, the initiative acknowledges the impact of the hotel group on local and global environments and establishes a science-based target to achieve a 27 per cent reduction in scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 with a 2017 base line. Scope 3 is addressed in the initiative with Millennium stating it collaborates closely with suppliers, “emphasising principles such as effective management of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste, pollution, resource use, and biodiversity.” Millennium says it is looking for suppliers with appropriate corporate governance arrangements, “emphasising ethical and sustainable operations, diversity, and equal opportunities.” Read more here.

Accor highlights some hotel initiatives to reduce carbon emissions

  • Fairmont Royal York, which originally opened its doors in 1929, undertook the largest heritage hotel retrofit in North America ౼ and in the entire Fairmont global brand portfolio. The property is now certified as a Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard by the Canada Green Building Council. Ongoing plans include using Lake Ontario’s deep waters to replace centrifugal chillers, updating legacy steam systems with an electric heat pump installation plant and removing 80 per cent of direct emissions from building operations. All together, these actions will reduce the building’s carbon emissions by over 7,000 tonnes every year ౼ the equivalent of taking 1,558 cars off the road;
  • Mövenpick Sousse has launched a tool to monitor carbon monoxide emissions and optimise energy consumption. Using the platform, Tunisia’s Mövenpick Sousse has a real-time overview of the hotel’s energy and carbon emissions and can adjust its energy allocation within the heating system according to occupancy. The hotel has optimised nearly 40 per cent of its energy consumption so far;
  • Sofitel Dubai The Palm has installed 232 rooftop solar panels. The 530 sq/m of panels generate 2,200 kw of heat output each day ౼ enough to heat 50 per cent of the hotel’s hot water. The hotel has other energy saving initiatives including photocell facade lighting, GRMS systems in each room and the use of clay tiles and cape reed thatching on its roofs for sustainable temperature control and waterproofing. The property also features waste and water management systems, a waste recycling station and an AI-powered food waste reduction programme. The hotel has been Green Globe certified for nine consecutive years, currently holding a Gold status;
  • Accor has also partnered with Klimato, a foodtech company specialising in carbon footprint analysis. By calculating the carbon footprint of each existing menu item in 48 Accor hotels in the UAE, guests can see the environmental impact of their meal choices. Accor also asked 10 chefs in the region to adapt their recipes to lower the carbon footprint of each dish. The initiative aimed at increasing the low carbon and meat-free options offered in its properties.

COP29 will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, and the following year the summit will be hosted by Brazil. 

Image: Christoph Schulz on Unsplash