Sustainable tourism?

On a recent holidat trip tp the Netherlands to see the height of the tulip season, we drove 2500 kms on the return journey. While on Noordvijk’d extensive beach, it was impossible not to notice the large number of con-trails from jets criss-crossing the  blue sky at  high altitudes, some heading for nearby Schiphol Airport. We  had driven rather than flown from Poland because the cost of petrol was siginificantly lower than two air fares. Thus, like most travellers, we placed a higher priority on costs than n the impact of our journey on the environment. The carbon footprint of our choice of transport, let alone all other supply chains that  underpinned a pleasant holiday, was not even  calculated. Such other impacts  include accommodation, food and beverages, souvenirs, clothing, cosmetics and other goods. “Let them that be without sin cast the first stone” as the Bible says!

A new study reported here concludes that tourism contributes 8% of global carbon emissions when the supply chains involved are calculated. Tourism is expanding at a much faster rate than GDP growth.  The researchers identified carbon flows between 160 countries from 2009 to 2013. Their results show that tourism-related emissions increased by around 15% over that period, from 3.9 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO₂-e) to 4.5Gt. This rise primarily came from tourist spending on transport, shopping and food. They estimate that our growing appetite for travel and a business-as-usual scenario would increase carbon emissions from global tourism to about 6.5Gt by 2025. This increase is largely driven by rising incomes, making tourism highly income-elastic and carbon-intensive.

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