TOPOSOPHY was commissioned to conduct the study by HOTREC, the umbrella association representing the hospitality sector in Europe, in recognition of the challenges and opportunities from the transition to Net Zero emissions for European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The report's purpose is to make the case for an accelerated response from the hospitality industry (hotels and the food, drink, and entertainment sectors) to the climate emergency. It provides an analysis of the challenges, opportunities, available support for SMEs, and several case studies for inspiration, knowledge sharing and future benchmarking, summarised under three sections:
- An overview of the Progress to Date, structured around the five pathways of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism – measure, decarbonize, regenerate, collaborate and finance.
- Existing Support: a selection of key methodologies, tools, collaborative initiatives as well as several inspiring and case studies from across Europe, based on their accessibility, practicality, and applicability to the hospitality sector SMEs.
- Recommendations for both HOTREC members and SMEs around three themes: Climate Awareness, Education and Communication; Supporting Measurement and Decarbonization; and Advocacy and Collaboration.
7 Key Insights
Key Insights gathered from extensive desk research, previous research amongst HOTREC members as well as from interviews with hospitality industry experts include:
- In the pursuit of achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050, remarkable strides have been made already, with a variety of tools and methodologies tailored specifically for SMEs to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. Nevertheless, substantial work and support are still necessary to accelerate the pace of change.
- The journey towards Net Zero emissions can be particularly challenging for hospitality SMEs due to a lack of knowledge, funding, time, competing business priorities, lack of standardised guidance on emissions reporting, the availability of methodologies and tools in English only (a significant barrier for non-English speakers), and a perception that it is hard to know where to start.
- However, Net Zero brings numerous opportunities, such as meeting the rising demands of consumers, enhancing reputation, exploring new revenue streams and commercial offerings, improving overall performance, and staying ahead of incoming regulations.
- The potential for innovation and impact is significant, as hospitality businesses look to influence customer behaviour, decarbonise menus and promote diet shift, drive out food waste, adopt zero emissions logistics solutions, reduce water and energy use, and drive improvements for more sustainable agriculture.
- Finding information about the hospitality sector’s initiatives under the ‘regenerate’ pathway has proven surprisingly difficult. Even when the sector cooperates with others to conserve biodiversity and support host communities, these efforts aren’t widely communicated. The report describes several such initiatives.
- There are several global and more regional collaborative initiatives for restaurants and other food providers to help them reduce the carbon footprint of menus, and that encourage consumers to choose more climate-friendly diets and purchase climate-friendly products. For example The Cool Food Pledge, One Planet Plate, Climate Friendly Diets, Carbon Free Dining - all described in the report.
- To accelerate the transition to Net Zero, the hospitality sector associations can best support SMEs by offering education and training, promoting best practice in sustainability and climate action, facilitating measurement and decarbonization efforts, encouraging members to participate in conservation-related carbon offsetting schemes run by reliable partners, observing the continuous developments in relevant EU legislation as well as legislation at the national level to keep the industry updated and prepared, and fostering collaboration within the industry.
We extend our gratitude to Eric Ricaurte, Simon Heppner, José Juan Lorenzo, Agata Delmaczyńska interviewed for the report. Read the full report online here or download it below.