Iberostar targets carbon neutrality by 2030, eyes nature-based insetting

Spanish hotel giant Iberostar has outlined plans to become carbon neutral within a decade, underpinned by commitments to sequester carbon at its seafront locations.

Pictured: Mangrove reforestation in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Image: Iberostar

Pictured: Mangrove reforestation in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Image: Iberostar

The goal covers emissions from all scopes, which, in 2019, totalled 230,000 tonnes. Iberostar sees that figure decreasing by at least 25% by 2030 as it invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and delivers against its goals on plastics, waste and sustainable procurement.

Iberostar plans to address at least 75% of its emissions in 2030 through nature-based offsetting and insetting – the process of sequestering carbon within its own operations and value chain. Eight in ten of its hotels are located on the seafront, so the firm is betting heavily on “blue carbon”; it plans to plant, restore and protect mangroves and seagrass.

Emissions that cannot be addressed through “blue carbon” sequestration can be inset using land plants. On this latter point, Iberostar has committed to increasing its green spaces by 25%. Iberostar has stated that it will only purchase carbon credits which offset emissions elsewhere as a final step.

“Mangroves are well-developed along the coasts of countries like Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and constitute one of the largest carbon pools in the tropics,” Iberostar’s global Sustainability office director Megan Morikawa Said. “Our approach, therefore, includes the commitment to protecting and restoring them in order to achieve maximum carbon absorption and sequestration, and thereby reach the net balance of global emissions.”

Morikawa is a qualified biologist as well as a corporate sustainability leader. She has spearheaded Iberostar’s developments of four pilot mangrove nurseries and a coral nursery and lab – facilities which are used for research by the science and sustainability teams but regularly open to hotel guests and families from local communities.

This month, these initiatives were built upon with a mangrove-planting event in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Iberostar employees planted 70 button mangrove trees in an area recently depleted by extreme weather.

Nature-based solutions 

With awareness of the intersectional nature of the climate crisis and nature loss growing, an expanding cohort of businesses are exploring insetting using nature-based solutions. 

Nespresso, for example, recently committed to becoming carbon neutral across all scopes by 2022. In an exclusive interview with edie, the company outlined plans to support farmers with afforestation, reforestation and cover cropping. 

Burberry is similarly creating a "regeneration fund" to support insetting, due to be launched by the end of 2020. The fund builds on the company's 1.5C science-based targets. These include a commitment to reducing its operational emissions by 95% by 2022.


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Sarah George



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