Tourism is growing faster than the global economy and also contributes significantly to CO2 emissions. A recent global assessment highlighted the sector’s successes and shortcomings in combating climate change. The sector is also sensitive to the effects of climate change.
To solve these problems, a team of experts from more than thirty countries conducted a comprehensive study on environmental protection and tourism. The result is an inventory of the industry’s progress and failures and a framework of forty quantitative measurement criteria that will guide future efforts to achieve a better climate balance in this economic sector.
Tourism is growing faster than the world economy.
The report summarizes trends and facts about the tourism industry. This shows that the travel industry is growing faster than the global economy, which is shifting towards longer journeys with higher emissions.
Unfortunately, industry is directly and indirectly responsible for 8 to 10% of global greenhouse gases. In addition, tourist destinations often experience regional problems such as water scarcity or heat waves, and holidaymakers waste scarce resources such as water or energy for cooling purposes. Despite these problems, many countries encourage tourism because it contributes to economic growth.
However, increased tourism also leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Between 1995 and 2019, emissions from tourist traffic increased by 65 percent. Air travel is the main culprit, accounting for 26 percent of all national and international tourist travel and responsible for 75 percent of emissions.
On the other hand, although railway is the least emitting form of transportation in tourism, fossil fuel is still used in many places. Decarbonizing rail transport requires clean electricity, which unfortunately is not available in many countries.
Although the greenhouse gas intensity of hotel operations is increasing in some regional markets, without rapid global expansion hotels will not be able to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030. The fact that energy demand per room remains constant indicates that the reduction in emissions is due to decarbonization of electricity supply, not to reducing energy consumption in the hotel.
Only a few high-income countries and destinations are responsible for most global tourism outflows. Among the 50 countries with large tourism sectors, Italy, Mexico and Thailand rank first.
Climate justice is being pushed aside.
People in rich countries contribute heavily to carbon emissions, which can harm countries that don’t have the resources to deal with the consequences. Countries already struggling with issues such as poverty, unsustainable tourism and threats from climate change often have difficulty achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This could worsen the effects of climate change on islands and mountain areas in low- and middle-income countries. In cases where there is no other option other than tourism for economic development, it is important to provide support to those who have lost their livelihoods due to the decline of tourism.
First global climate change report on tourism
The tourism sector is under threat from climate change.
The effects of climate change have also hit the tourism industry. It has been concluded that current forms of tourism are no longer viable in some locations due to the effects of climate change. Although adaptation and resilience measures are implemented in plans and strategies, these are fragmented, short-lived and not evenly distributed across regions and destination types.
Tourism policies have not yet been systematically integrated into global and national climate change frameworks, according to a report. In many countries where tourism is an important part of the economy, tourism is not taken into account in climate protection plans. The policy also does not meet the need to reduce emissions-intensive forms of tourism and does not encourage the development and selection of low-carbon products.
Aviation will be included in environmental protection projects.
The challenge of effective policies to reduce emissions stems from the different treatment of domestic and international aviation and cruise ships internationally and nationally. While sustainability is becoming increasingly important to the destination, the journey there is often overlooked.
Moreover, investGovernments around the world are investing billions of dollars in infrastructures that are highly vulnerable to climate change and cause high greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of these funds are for airport projects. Additionally, the transition to a low-carbon travel industry is being hampered by $732 billion in fossil fuel subsidies globally.
The travel industry must protect its assets – nature
The report states that no country or destination emits greenhouse gases.
It is stated that it has not been able to significantly reduce its effects. However, there is an urgent need to build on the progress and innovative solutions identified in the inventory.
Isabelle Hill, former director of the US National Travel and Tourism Office, believes the travel industry must understand the significant risks climate change poses to its core values: people, planet and infrastructure.
Rapidly changing conditions in this sector