Maldives Eco Symposium: 'Biofuel may not be the answer'

Travel and tourism is crucial to sustainability and tackling climate change, as the world’s biggest business sector, according to World Future Council director Stefan Schurig.

Speaking at the Eco Symposium 2010 at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, Schurig said travel and tourism was responsible for 230 million jobs and 10% of gross domestic product around the world.

The sector must make a rapid response to the environmental situation, mitigating its greenhouse gas emissions from transport and accommodation and helping businesses and countries adapt to the changing climate. He described the ideal model as “holistic ecotourism”.


Schurig also criticised conventional plant-derived biofuel as a solution for the aviation industry, because of problems including conflict with growing food, and the impact of fertilizers needed to grow biofuel plants.

“I see no long-term future for biofuel in the aviation industry,” he said. “Hydrogen from renewable energy is the answer for aviation.”

British Airways head of environment Jonathon Counsell responded by saying the airlines had already pledged not to use any biofuel that had harmful impact, and that BA was building a waste-to-fuel project in London that when it came online in 2014 would provide 2% of BA’s fuel.

But if the project was successful, said Counsell, a programme would be rolled out so the percentage would be much higher.

“Our project uses 500,000 tons of waste a year; London produces 22 million tons of a year, the UK produces 200 million tons. That’s a fantastic opportunity for the airline industry.”

“We are looking at hydrogen fuel cells, but that technology is 50-60 years away,” he said.