Climate Action in Hotels
The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 was kicked off on 30th November 2023 for full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
It is challenging for the hotel industry to respond to climate risks due to the industry’s fragmented structure that entails complex human capital involvement in both operations and management, along with a commitment to transparency across diverse stakeholder groups.
“Climate action is understood as the efforts to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen adaptive capacity to climate induced impacts.”
Some actions are reducing greenhouse gas emissions involve targeted actions across various departments, efficient energy management, optimizing consumption and adopting renewable energy sources to diminish reliance on fossil fuels, eliminating waste and improving water management also significantly impact emissions, the use of construction methods and materials contribute by minimizing the carbon footprint of buildings and sourcing locally are some examples of how collectively hotels can take a holistic approach toward combating climate change.
Climate Action Plan
The influence of climate change on accommodations is becoming increasingly tangible. Thus, hotel teams have the challenge to create effective plans for climate action areas such as energy, water, general waste, food waste, and the supply chain management.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation are two strategies aimed at addressing the effects of climate change, albeit in different ways. Mitigation is meant to reduce global warming and hence the potential climatic hazards, adaptation is a proactive action that hotels take to improve asset's resilience.
Climate Change Mitigation (CCM)
Mitigation refers to actions taken to decrease or prevent the release of greenhouse gases into the air, which helps slow or halt the progression of climate change. In the context of hotels, there are three main strategies to avoid emitting CO2: lowering energy use, enhancing energy efficiency, and adopting renewable energy sources. Measures such as transitioning to renewable energy, providing electric vehicle charging stations, forestation, reforestation to absorb CO2, and using carbon capture and storage technologies can further contribute to reducing emissions. Accommodation sector worldwide currently generates roughly 282 million metric tons of CO2 annually, with each guest night averaging emissions of 14 kilograms of CO2, primarily from energy use (excluding food-related emissions).
Climate Change Adaptation (CCA)
Adaptation involves taking steps to handle the effects of climate change that are either already happening or anticipated in the future. This can mean various actions like constructing sturdy infrastructure capable of withstanding extreme weather, setting up warning systems for natural disasters, implementing water-saving techniques in drought-prone areas, adjusting farming methods to suit new climate patterns, and creating policies for managing coastal areas against rising sea levels.
For hotels, both mitigation (like using energy-efficient systems to cut carbon emissions and costs) and adaptation (ensuring resilience against climate-related risks) matter. Mitigation not only reduces their environmental impact but also saves money through lower energy expenses. Adaptation is vital for safeguarding against disruptions caused by extreme weather, preserving business continuity, and minimizing potential damages.
Always ensure to cover the main types of adaptation: technical, behavioral, research, policy and managerial.
Climate-related events impacting hotels’ bottom line
- Key adaptation measures for climate hazards
Climate change is poised to ramp up the frequency and strength of extreme weather events across various global regions, resulting in more substantial damages and increased losses due to weather-related disasters. There are nine main types of climate hazards—like extreme heat, cold, precipitation, floods, sea level rise, droughts, storms, landslides, and forest fires—that could adversely affect societies, economies, and the environment. Additionally, there could be other risks, such as diseases carried by vectors.
These hazards become significant risks when they threaten something valuable, like people, finances, infrastructure, cultural assets, and heritage sites. The severity of these risks hinges on how susceptible the affected system is and how well it can adapt. For instance, in the face of extreme heat, urban dwellers may face equal exposure, but those residing in poorly insulated buildings would likely be more vulnerable compared to those living in homes designed for climatic conditions.
In some regions, coastal hotels have implemented a comprehensive array of climate change adaptation measures to mitigate the impact of environmental shifts on their operations. Technical measures such as fortifying the hotel structures against extreme weather events. Managerial strategies ensuring guest safety and sustainable operations during weather-related events and awareness-raising measures aim to educate and engage stakeholders—staff, guests, and the wider community—about climate change risks and adaptations, fostering informed actions toward environmental conservation.
Climate Risks & ESG
Damage caused by climate-related incidents in accommodations, such as hotels, can result in substantial financial strain. This strain arises from both direct expenses like repairing buildings and relocating staff, as well as indirect effects like disruptions in economic operations. They can significantly reduce the value of the properties affected. Hotels lacking sustainable features or facing higher exposure to environmental risks tend to be sold below their actual market worth—a phenomenon known as the "Brown discount."
This trend ties hotel valuations increasingly to sustainability aspects and environmental vulnerability. There's a growing consideration of avoiding constructing new hotels in high-risk areas and designing hotels that blend harmoniously with their surroundings.
For instance, in hurricane or tornado-prone areas, simple measures like lower roof pitches, reinforced connections, and communal shelter areas within amenities enhance safety. Similarly, hotels in fire-prone zones opt for non-combustible materials, fire-resistant landscaping, and strategic plantings to ensure both safety and aesthetic alignment with the hotel's design. These measures not only protect the properties but also improve safety for everyone on the property.
European Hotels 🇪🇺
The intersection of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) regulation and CCA
Many regions have started implementing regulations related to climate change and environmental sustainability. Hotels that proactively adopt mitigation and adaptation strategies can stay ahead of compliance requirements, avoiding potential penalties and staying in line with future regulations and improve resilience of assets.
- Climate Change Vulnerability Index for Tourism (CVIT) is a composite index that uses 27 multidisciplinary indicators to quantify how sensitive a country’s tourism sector is to the impacts of climate change. The CVIT is composed of six weighted components which quantify Tourism Assets, Tourism Operating Costs, Tourism Demand, Host Country Deterrents, Tourism Sector Adaptive Capacity and Host Country Adaptive Capacity.
- The new Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), released by global risks advisory firm Maplecroft, enables organisations to identify areas of risk within their operations, supply chains and investments. It evaluates 42 social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities across three core areas. These include: exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; human sensitivity, in terms of population patterns, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflicts; thirdly, the index assesses future vulnerability by considering the adaptive capacity of a country’s government and infrastructure to combat climate change. maplecroft.com/about/news/ccvi.html
Gössling, S. and Lund-Durlacher, D., 2021. Tourist accommodation, climate change and mitigation: An assessment for Austria. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 34, p.100367.
Nhep, T., Schott, C. and Sahli, M., 2021. Climate change adaptation in Cambodia's coastal hotel sector: An analysis of adaptation measures and hotel characteristics. Tourism Management Perspectives, 40, p.100890.