What does COP27 mean for the travel industry? Travalyst’s CEO, Sally Davey, gives her verdict from on the ground.
Loss and damage
This was a central issue of the COP this year and rightly so. While 80% of the world’s population has never taken a flight, it is in the destinations and regions where those people live that the effects of climate change are being most acutely and urgently felt. I spoke on a panel about how technology can enable transformation towards sustainable travel and transportation, and was really pleased to hear my fellow panellist Dan Rutherford, the Program Director on the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT), talking about the inequities of travel. He particularly honed in on air transport and highlighted the ICCT’s modelling work on a frequent flyer levy, which predicts that taxing those who take six or more flights a year (about 2% of the world’s population) would generate 81% of the revenue needed to decarbonise aviation.
Urgency – and optimism
Unlike many, I’m feeling optimistic about sustainable travel, as were others on our panel. As Professor Robert Miller from the University of Cambridge noted, when there is a shared sense of urgency, unbelievable things can happen. This is known as the Moonshot theory, and it’s not without merit. Developing zero-emission, hydrogen-fuelled planes, for example, requires the right legislation, the right technology and crucially, the power of the consumer. If we act with urgency and optimism, and remember that every single choice we make as consumers makes a difference, then unbelievable things really can happen.
Collaboration is one of those overused words, much like sustainability, and it can be used to mean very different things. Often, it represents a closed door, where stakeholders collaborate with a select few without sharing the benefits for the greater good. That’s what’s so critical about Travalyst’s open-access, pre-competitive model, where all the collaborative work done is available to everyone, openly and without charge.
On our panel, Yossi Matias, from Google, made the point about cloud computing and AI being freely available for anybody. As Yossi explained, innovation often comes from unexpected places – from start-ups, say, or from parts of the world that we don’t usually associate with massive, world-changing solutions. So we really need to redefine the concept of collaboration, where competitors and representatives from all corners of society come together in a genuinely collective effort. That is the only way that we will have any chance of effectively addressing the scale of challenges that lie ahead.