- It’s not just the getting there. Shopping, dining, hotel hopping all add to the tally.
- Between 2009 and 2013, tourism’s global carbon footprint increased from 3.9 to 4.5 Gt CO2-e — four times more than previous estimates — accounting for about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transport, shopping and food are significant contributors.
- The US tops the carbon footprint ranking, followed by China, Germany and India. The majority of these carbon footprints are caused by domestic travel; business travel could not be distinguished from tourism.
- The study found air travel was the key contributor to tourism’s footprint and that the carbon-intensive industry would comprise an increasingly significant proportion of global emissions as growing affluence and technological developments rendered luxury travel more affordable.
Going green may mean staying at home. Global tourism contributes about 8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, researchers report May 7 in Nature Climate Change. That carbon footprint is about three times as large as tourism-related emissions estimated by previous studies.
The jump is largely because the new study doesn’t just tally up emissions from the traveling itself, like hopping a flight, going on a road trip or taking a cruise. It also looks at the impact of the goods and services that tourists enjoy, from food to shopping to hotel stays. Who has the biggest carbon footprint? The United States topped the list, as both a top destination for tourists and a source of tourists. Other prosperous nations, such as Canada and Germany, also have a big footprint, and increasingly wealthy nations, such as China and Mexico, are catching up in this amazing race….
Lenzen, Manfred, et al. The carbon footprint of global tourism. Nature Climate Change, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0141-x