With a clear commitment to achieve net-zero emissions well ahead of 2050 and science-based targets by 2030, TUI Group CEO Sebastian Ebel has presented the Group's Sustainability Agenda. The strategic framework brings together the company's sustainability initiatives and programmes with a clear mission: to significantly reduce TUI’s environmental footprint and maximize positive socio-economic impacts in holiday destinations.
The three building blocks of the Agenda, ‘People, Planet and Progress’, are underpinned by 15 focus areas to be implemented across the business – from investments in state-of-the-art aircraft to ambitious energy savings across the board, from promoting local sourcing in hotels and more sustainable fuels for cruise ships to expanding the certification of hotels and experiences according to internationally recognized sustainability criteria. TUI supports and takes action to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is fully embedding ESG criteria in its corporate governance. The Sustainability Agenda was developed by an international team of experts from the company in close collaboration with the business units. Sustainability is therefore firmly anchored in all of TUI's business areas.
"We are in a decade of sustainable transformation – for TUI and the tourism industry as a whole. We want to strengthen and further develop tourism as a global driver of prosperity and development. TUI will continue to lead the tourism industry in sustainability – with our ambitious goals, pioneering initiatives and holistic approach. Sustainability is a top priority for me personally and for TUI. We have proven in the past that we have the expertise and the right approach to make tourism more sustainable. That's why we don't see sustainability as a threat – for us, it's an opportunity. We wanted to be led by the latest climate science, which is why we are working with the Science Based Targets initiative,” says Sebastian Ebel, CEO of TUI Group.
PLANET: REDUCING TUI’S ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT
Reducing the Group's emissions is a core aim of the ‘Planet’ building block. As an important interim step, TUI has committed to 2030 emission reduction targets for its own airlines, cruises and hotels. The independent Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration by the UN Global Compact and WWF, among others, conducted an in-depth review of TUI's targets to ensure they were in line with the latest climate science and approved them a few days ago. Since 2020, teams at TUI have been working towards validating the emission reduction targets through SBTi, with the development of detailed roadmaps. TUI will achieve net-zero emissions across the company and supply chain by 2050 at the latest.
By 2030, emissions from TUI Airline are to be reduced by 24 percent, Group-owned hotels by at least 46.2 percent and cruise business by 27.5 percent compared to 2019 levels. "These scenarios were made on the basis of today's scientific findings and the technologies and fuels available today. New technology and innovations will continue to open new possibilities and will spur us on to be more ambitious. That's why we will keep reviewing and adjusting our targets. We want to reduce faster and more comprehensively and we will also communicate this to our suppliers and partners. Anyone working with TUI must be prepared to pursue ambitious goals and walk the path with us," says Sebastian Ebel.
TUI Airline accounts for around 80 percent of the travel group's emissions. Between 2008 and 2022, the Group's airlines have already reduced CO2 per revenue passenger kilometer by 18 percent. By 2030, these will be reduced by 24 percent, compared to 2019. To achieve this, TUI is relying on state-of-the-art aircraft as well as improving operational efficiencies e.g. optimised flight routes. In addition, TUI will increase the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) beyond current blending obligations. TUI already has cooperation agreements in place to promote the production and supply of SAF. Ebel calls on politicians and airports to create incentives for more efficient aircraft in the air traffic fee schedules: "Higher fees for older aircraft, lower fees for the use of SAF and more carbon-efficient aircraft. These are simple mechanisms to directly strengthen investments in sustainability."
TUI plans to offer climate-neutral cruise holidays by 2030 at the latest. At the same time, TUI's cruise business will reduce the CO2e emissions of their fleets by more than a quarter (27.5 percent) in absolute terms by 2030. No other cruise line in the world is currently committing to an absolute reduction target. TUI Group cruise business is also the first in its industry to have its reduction target approved by SBTi. Energy efficiency in ship operations, fuel-saving route optimization, shore power in ports and the use of alternative fuels – such as sustainable bio-fuels, bio-LNG and green methanol – are essential to achieving the 2030 reduction targets. Between 2015 and 2019, carbon efficiency from cruise improved by 14 percent. The three newbuilds coming into the fleet by 2026 will not use heavy fuel oil. Mein Schiff 7 will enter service in 2024, which will run on lower-emission marine diesel and be equipped with catalytic converters and a shore power connection. In addition, the ship will also be able to run on 'green methanol' in the future. In 2024 and 2026, two ships will follow, which will be operated with liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG serves as a bridge technology until bio-LNG is available, which will be produced either from biogenic sources or synthetically from renewable energy.
For TUI Hotels & Resorts, TUI has committed to reducing emissions by almost half (46.2 percent). At the same time, the company is working to achieve even more ambitious reduction targets – and to reduce hotel emissions as far as possible to zero as early as 2030. To achieve this, TUI is focused on renewable energy and resource-saving operational practices.
"The 2030 emission reduction targets are an important milestone on the way to emission-free travel. With the program presented today, we aim to make significant reductions by 2030. I see it as the minimum of what we need to achieve, both in terms of reduction targets and time horizon. For example, I have set myself the personal goal of reducing emissions from our hotels as far as possible to zero as early as 2030. Together with all TUI colleagues, I am working to ensure that TUI becomes the industry's climate pioneer and continues to expand its lead," says Sebastian Ebel, CEO of the TUI Group.
To protect the planet, TUI will also transform the way it uses resources and will implement the principles of the circular economy in all areas. Initial focal areas include waste from plastics and food. TUI Group is committed to eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and items by 2025, building on its successful pre-pandemic plastic reduction program. By 2019, the company had already removed more than 257 million single-use plastic items from its hotels, cruise ships, airlines and offices. In addition, the company has set itself the goal of reducing food waste in its own hotels, on cruises and airlines by 25 percent by 2030. TUI is leveraging the experience gained from pilot projects, such as the food waste pilot project on board TUI Cruises ships. More initiatives will follow in order to be a circular business before 2050.
PROGRESS: ACCELERATING THE TRANSFORMATION
TUI has already launched a key initiative for the ‘Progress’ building block with the ‘Destination Co-Lab: Rhodes’. The holiday island of Rhodes is being developed into a global role model for sustainable transformation, in a joint project of the TUI Group, the government of the South Aegean as well as the Greek government and the TUI Care Foundation. Since it was announced in 2022, the overall strategy has been developed with local stakeholders and a comprehensive package of measures has been adopted. A project office has started its work on site, which will coordinate and drive forward the 27 individual projects. More details on this will be published shortly by the "Destination Co-Lab: Rhodes".
TUI continues to lead the way with their hotel sustainability certification strategy. Since 2015, TUI has delivered more than 54 million holidays to hotels independently certified as sustainable. TUI is continuing this path. Certifications are an important lever for driving change in the industry, that is why TUI Musement is certified to the Global Sustainable Council (GSTC) Criteria achieving the highest quality assurance mark that currently exists for sustainability. TUI was the first company in the industry to start applying global sustainability standards to its experiences portfolio. The certified process for experiences is designed to support local suppliers to improve the sustainability of their offerings and thereby helping to transform the whole sector.
PEOPLE: EMPOWER TO DRIVE DEVELOPMENT
To promote positive social impact for people in destinations, TUI will raise €10 million annually for the TUI Care Foundation by 2024. The TUI Care Foundation uses the positive power of tourism to improve the lives of young people, care for the natural world and help local communities thrive. Founded in 2016 as TUI’s independent Foundation, it identifies opportunities to build projects that use tourism as a force for good and make a lasting difference. Its work helps to accelerate sustainable change in the sector in destinations, especially in emerging and developing countries. Environmental education is also important to raise young people's awareness of nature conservation at an early age.
"The Sustainability Agenda is our plan to make tourism more sustainable. Ground-breaking initiatives such as the "Destination Co-Lab: Rhodes" and applying global sustainability standards to our experiences portfolio represent our ambition not only to shape our own transformation, but to be a pacesetter for the entire industry and holiday destinations. With reduction targets for 99 percent of our emissions now audited and approved by SBTi, we are offering transparency and commitment to our ambitions. One thing is clear: We see 2030 as an intermediate step and will do everything we can to achieve net zero emissions even before 2050," says Thomas Ellerbeck, Chief Sustainability Officer of TUI Group and member of the Group Executive Committee.
An overview of TUI's Sustainability Agenda can be found here.