Professional Comment

Hospitality’s Move Toward Carbon Net-Zero

By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (

Everyone will agree that there is an urgent need for climate action. If collective efforts are not made now, we won’t be able to avoid irreversible damage to our planet. Governments are putting all their efforts, and different organisations have been guiding and encouraging us to achieve net-zero carbon targets set for 2050.

Hospitality is one of the sectors that will have to focus on decarbonasation like any other greenhouse gas emitter industry. As per some industry estimates, the hotel industry alone is accountable for around 2 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide, and in the UK, hospitality forms the third largest sector in the economy, so it has a crucial role to play in achieving the net-zero target.

Hospitality industry’s net-zero roadmap
Net-zero basically means balancing by removing enough emissions than what we produce. Last year on 19 October, the Zero Carbon Forum launched the UK’s hospitality roadmap to net zero.

It outlined the current trends as well as the emission hotspots of the sector. The roadmap also included decarbonisation prospects and pragmatic approaches for setting net-zero goals. It has been developed in the background of the latest climate science after going through a broad consultation with forum members and sustainability experts.

The roadmap has set out bold commitments needed for the companies in the sector to achieve net-zero. Its aim is to attain a 90 per cent reduction in operational emissions of 57 – 78 per cent (Scope 1 & 2) and a decrease in supply chain (Scope 3) emissions by 2040. The action entailed in the roadmap is in sync with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

How can hotels achieve the net-zero target?
Keeping in mind the Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, milestones to be reached by the target years of 2025, 2030, and 2040, respectively, a new methodology to guide hotels was released by a group of global hospitality, travel, and tourism sector organisations in December last year. The methodology is a culmination of a collaborative process with industry experts. It has been conceptualized by a global sustainable hospitality consultancy, Greenview, in association with other organisations like Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The methodology is designed to enable hotels to make reliable and feasible net-zero commitments and aims to provide additional insights into the wider climate change. This also intends to provide a consistent approach to net-zero for hotels which will support the ambitions of covering hotel stay, which is included in Scope 3 Business Travel for companies.

The methodology has been termed as a major steppingstone of innovation that will allow hotels to make realistic and sustainable net-zero commitments and would set limits to measure and report greenhouse gases emissions in a coherent manner.

Road ahead
For hotel operators, sustainably-minded strategies are now going to be standard expectations from customers. And in the coming period it would be the prime requirement to design energy-efficient new buildings and modify the existing ones with green technology.

However, improving the management of the hotel’s carbon emissions may not be difficult and can be done in a cost-effective manner. Owners and operators of the hotels can contain their carbon impression through zero-carbon strategies, and viz-a-viz can also boost their profit through energy savings. The Net Zero Methodology, which sets a standard for a net zero target and establishes certain fixed categories for planning a net-zero path, could be the best approach to follow.