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Green Certification in the Hotel Sector? Does it actually reduce global CO2 emissions?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr James Kirkbride.

The research poses a simple question, ‘Does Certification in the hotel sector signify lower CO2 emissions per guest night?’ The research examines whether certification schemes are rigorous and whether the results are credible. The paper discusses climate change and global tourism, the issue of ‘green’ electricity and carbon offsetting, provides a critique of current methods of certification used in the hotel sector and examines the environmental impact and the accounting method used.

Global CO2 emissions were compared and calculated from the delivered electricity and fuels consumption data from seventy selected certified hotels worldwide. No corrections were made in the calculations for climate, quality of services, existence of services etc. The performance indicator used is kgCO2 per guest night.

The analyses shows no clear pattern. In some cases emissions reduced after certification in others no change. Certified hotels do not necessarily have lower emissions than uncertified hotels and a comparison of before – and after – certification shows no significant improvement. Most dramatically emissions from certified hotels widely vary by a factor of 7. Although it is arguable a number of corrections should be made to account for different climates, the research highlights that hotels with high CO2 emissions are being awarded certification and it questions what message ‘certification’ gives to guests and other stakeholders. At worst it appears ‘business as usual’ can achieve certification with no obvious improvement in performance. The authors conclude a simple, accurate method of CO2 emissions calculation needs to be developed which can be adopted universally.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Science Seminars series.

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