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The travel industry – which accounts for $2.6 trillion in spending annually – has been slow to recognize climate change as an important threat. Now, the industry is finally taking a first step towards addressing it.

On Wednesday, the travel and tourism industry released a policy statement stating its commitment to stand up to rising greenhouse gas emissions. Along with the five U.S. travel and tourism organizations that signed the statement, like the Association of International Corporate Travel Agencies and Travel Industry Association of North America, the travel industry’s 20 largest membership bodies have agreed to a set of standards that demand more responsibility from themselves. The travel industry will accept data from reports and projects on greenhouse gas emissions but will also provide information to government agencies and policymakers.

“They say we are an industry that should be leading the way,” Andrew Peterson, president of the travel and tourism institute, told me, “and being more open, and more transparent, and more on the cutting edge of climate change solutions.”

The industry will now join the support of other businesses, in the face of a new federal mandate that 90 percent of fossil fuel emitters must report their greenhouse gas emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency by 2020. It also comes as CEOs of world’s largest companies, including those from three Fortune 500 firms, announced in October their support for global action on climate change.

“I don’t know if we will ever be able to have a full change of world’s economies but we have to,” Peterson added. “I think that is a step in the right direction and we hope it is a strong one.”

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