Travel industry leaders will be told next week that measures to combat climate change are a costly waste of money that risk putting them out of business.
Lord Bernard Donoghue will tell the Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Benidorm: “The travel industry is in danger of being a victim of excessive policy decisions. A lot of the case for global warming has been propaganda by zealots.”
He will say there has been “an absence of global warming in the last decade” and argue: “We need to question the policy [on global warming] because wild policy reactions could devastate our economy.”
In fact, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) reports that 2000-09 was the warmest decade on record – with 2005 the warmest year yet, and 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009 “in a virtual tie for the second- warmest year on record”.
Lord Donoghue is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a group sceptical about climate change.
He says: “I’m not a total sceptic, but I question the scale and even the source of global warming. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything, but if we did everything talked about, it could destroy the western economies.”
He will speak as industry charity the Travel Foundation steps up efforts to change holidaymakers’ behaviour abroad with the launch this month of a consumer campaign to Make Holidays Greener.
Travel Foundation vice-chairman and The Co-operative Travel managing director Mike Greenacre said: “Only time will nail this debate, but the cost of doing nothing could be a lot more than acting now.”
Only last autumn, Dr Andreas Schafer – an expert on aviation and the environment at Cambridge University – told an ITT roundtable: “We need to take drastic action [to cut emissions].”
TUI Travel UK managing director Dermot Blastland, who will debate Lord Donoghue, said: “Climate change will have very real implications – extreme weather conditions, water shortages, sea level rises and biodiversity degradation.”
Forum for the Future head of futures James Goodman, who launched the industry vision document Tourism 2023 at last year’s Abta Travel Convention, said: “We shouldn’t be nervous of discussing climate change, but it’s a tragedy we’re still having a debate about whether it’s happening.
“The proposition that the world is in a cooling period is reckless. This will be a test of the industry.”