We must address the elephant in the room – so to speak. As the world begins to reopen post the Covid-19 pandemic and the tourism industry emerges from its two-year hiatus, it is imperative that we rebuild this industry to firstly be more resilient to future crises but also reshape how we operate in a more sustainable way. This means addressing the climate crisis together as an industry, as we contribute more than our fair share of emissions globally.
This is why in the run up to one of the most important gatherings at the UNâ€™s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) this November in the UK, we have decided to declare a Climate Emergency! ELIE and our Elephant Valley Project have signed on to the Tourism Declares initiative that supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions. This is following the advice from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030.
Like all signatories on this initiative, we have committed to the following five actions within the next 12 months:
1. Develop a â€˜Climate Emergency Planâ€™ within the next 12 months, which sets out our intentions to reduce our carbon emissions, as an organisation, over the next decade.
2. Share our initial public declaration and publish our â€˜Climate Emergency Planâ€™ when it is completed, while also giving updates on our progress each year.
3. Accept current IPCC advice stating the need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 in order to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming. Weâ€™ll ensure our â€˜Climate Emergency Planâ€™ represents actions designed to achieve this target as a minimum. We will develop our plan with actions that are transparent and measurable. Our main goal will be to decrease the emissions of ELIE as an organisation and also all operations of the running of the EVP sanctuary. While at the same time increasing reductions in the total carbon emissions per customer who visits our ecotourism program, by looking at the entire supply chain and working closely with our travel partners.
4. Encourage our suppliers and partners to make the same declaration; sharing best practice amongst peers; and actively participate in the Tourism Declares community.
5. Advocate for change. We recognise the need for system change across the industry to accelerate a just transition towards carbon-free tourism.
Already the climate crisis is being felt across the world through extreme weather events and we understand that the Global South will be disportionately affected. The Northeast of Cambodia, and primarily Mondulkiri province where the EVP is based, is already experiencing heightened rains plus longer dry seasons and has been flagged by the IPCC to be one of the regions most at risk from the impacts of climate change in South East Asia. This will have a direct impact on not only how we can provide care and rehabilitation for elephants, but also for the communities that ELIE works closely with, the forest that surrounds the sanctuary and the rich abundance of biodiversity within it.
This means the actions that we make today, tomorrow and for the next nine years up until 2030, to keep within a 1.5 degree rise in temperature, need to be dramatic because the impacts will be felt for centuries to come. It is imperative that we work together as communities, individuals, organisations and governments to make this possible.
Please consider also declaring at www.tourismdeclares.com, and follow on @tourismdeclares on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin
ELIE & the EVP’s Climate Action Plan
Currently in development – check back here soon.