People, Not Profit! - Civil Society Perspectives on Tourism and Climate Change

The tourism industry must act immediately to reduce its emissions and to operate a broad paradigm shift, from profit-centred strategies to people-centred ones, says a position paper developed by civil society groups and NGOs on the occasion of the UNFCCC talks from 29th September to 9th October, 2009 in Bangkok. The activists raised their voices about the plight of local communities already affected by the impact of climate change. Their creative events attracted the attention of the media and reinforced the solidarity between the different groups, built on several months on the road to COP15 in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

People's Action on Climate Change (PACC)

Under the People's Action on Climate Change (PACC) umbrella, ECOT facilitated a workshop close to the UN venue. Presentations focused on the link between tourism, climate change and land rights, water shortage, energy and resource use, and the use of agro-fuels for tourism transport. The common link between all the presentations remained the demand for climate justice and the need for the tourism industry to develop fair and just tourism practices while mitigating its emissions.

At a one-day conference on climate change and climate justice organised by PACC members to provide a platform to grassroots groups, tourism organisations called for the tourism industry to take its responsibility and to place people, and not profits, at the heart of its activities. The PACC statement included tourism as a concern in relation to climate change.

South Consultative Meeting

ECOT organised a ‘South Consultative meeting' providing rich insights into various issues related to climate change and tourism. Participants developed a position paper, placing people most affected by climate change at its heart. The position paper stresses the fact that no binding measures have been taken so far regarding bunker fuel emissions and that it is now necessary for the UN agreements to take into account the contribution of tourism to greenhouse gas emissions and therefore to climate change.

The paper insists on the need to stop hiding behind false solutions. Market-based mechanisms and false climate solutions such as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), REDD, agro-fuels, carbon trading are not acceptable. Facing the dramatic acceleration of global warming, stated in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC), Annex-1 countries have to reduce their emissions at home. The paper suggests other ways for tourism. 'Climate protection in tourism requires a significant transformation of current forms of mass tourism and a serious engagement of governments on this issue to reduce tourism's climate change footprint. Small scale, fair, just, people-centred and participatory tourism should be given much higher attention.'

The final version of the position paper will be presented at an event taking place on 10th December, 2009 on the occasion of COP15, and where ECOT and other tourism critical groups hope to exchange their views with representatives of the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO).

Further information:,

On the occasion of the climate talks in Bangkok, Tourism Watch published a special English TourismWatch edition with a focus on climate change which is available in the English section of the Tourism Watch website.

Amélie Vignaud is coordinator of communications and research at the Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism (ECOT).

(December 2009, TW 57)