Politicians need to set the right signals to help business act on climate change, according to Emma Duncan, deputy editor of the Economist and a leading commentator on the subject.
And she warned the delegates at ALIS that all leading candidates in the current race for the White House – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain – all supported a bill in Congress to pass legislation on carbon cutting that emulated European initiatives.
The European model was known as "cap and trade" and while the issuing of permits had been "messed up" by Europe, the second phase was starting which would see more accurate pricing of carbon emissions.
In terms of impact, it had already led to a 10% to 15% increase in electricity bills in Europe, said Duncan.
For the hotel industry, this means that carbon has to be taken seriously. She pointed to the stance of HSBC bank, the world's biggest, that has a travel policy favouring greener airlines and was thinking of introducing a similar approach to the hotels it books.
She advised that the most useful thing the hotel industry could do collectively was to talk about green issues and publish best practice. But she admitted: "Like any investment, green is a punt."