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Caribbean looks to address climate change

Setting a precedent in fight against global warming, the 8th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development will be climate impact neutral. The event will be held in Puerto Rico on April 25-29.

The conference, hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, will stick to it’s theme of “Keeping the Right Balance - Economic Progress and Sustainable Tourism” by offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with event activities through! a progressive program called MyClimate?.

The CTO’s decision to address the issue of global warming at this year’s conference is significant because of the interrelationship between global warming, travel, and coastal tourism development, particularly in the Caribbean. “The reality is that last year was the hottest year on record. Water temperatures and water levels are rising, contributing to coral bleaching and resulting in an ever increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes which are inundating coastal regions,” explains Peter D. Krahenbuhl, Co-founder and Vice President of Sustainable Travel International (STI). “In addition, dust storms from the Sahara Desert, which are directly related to global climate change, are the root cause of Caribbean sea fan disease and asthma among many young people in! the region. All of these issues have having a profound impact on the Caribbean tourism industry,” Krahenbuhl continues.

With physical and emotional scars leftover from last year’s hurricane season, the tourism community, however, remains hopeful that the future will be better through programs like MyClimate?. MyClimate? is a voluntary program that mitigates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by investing in Kyoto compliant renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce an equivalent amount of emissions elsewhere.

The CTO, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and STI, is utilizing MyClimate? to offset conference-related GHG emissions, including air travel for all attendees, which is the largest contributor of conference related emissions. The organizers of the annual Sustainable Tourism Development Conference are taking a solutions oriented approach by offsetting their GHG emissions through MyClimate, while setting an example to conference attendees who will be representing 32 countries. “We don’t want to just talk about sustainable tourism development,” explains Celeste Cordero of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, “but rather show everyone that there are viable solutions that can be implemented to address global warming.”


STI, who will be presenting “Global Warming, Tourism, and the Caribbean” at the conference, will use the conference as an example of how the Caribbean tourism industry can protect itself and avoid contributing to its own problems. “Travel and tourism companies, from hotels and tour operators to airlines and attractions, as well as individual travelers can now actively offset their tourism related greenhouse gas emissions and help neutralize their own global warming impacts,” Krahenbuhl concludes.