A study recently published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism found that CO2 emissions from traveling could one day be eliminated if travelers paid $11 USD per trip.
Estimates show that tourism related activities contribute to around 5% of manmade CO2 emissions globally. Professor Daniel Scott from the University of Waterloo, a co-author and lead researcher on the study, states that a warming world presents a risk to the global tourism industry as many popular destinations and tourism activities face challenges as a result of climate change. Therefore, decarbonizing tourism is in the best interest of various industry stakeholders, from business owners, to destinations, to consumers.
Professor Scott’s study, titled Can tourism be part of the decarbonized global economy? The costs and risks of alternate carbon reduction policy pathways, finds that reducing carbon emissions in the tourism industry in a way that aligns with global goals and targets, such as those presentation by the United Nations, will require significant action (energy-saving and renewable energy initiatives) and investment.
The tourism industry has made a commitment to reducing its CO2 emissions by 50% by 2035. Scott’s study finds that this target is achievable with an investment of nearly $1 billion annually into the 2020s. While this seems like a lot, let’s not forget that the global tourism industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry, experiencing increasing year-over-year growth. This means that the cost of reducing emissions relative to the projected market size in 2020 would be less than 0.1% of the estimated global tourism economy. The study finds that this cost divided equally among trips taken globally comes out to a modest fee of about $11 per trip. This “fee” would increase over time as the relative cost would grow to around 3.6% of the estimated global tourism economy by 2050.
“Tourism is how billions of people explore new places and experience new cultures and the natural wonders of this world every year. Tourism can be a force for immense good, but it needs to be done within the carbon limits being negotiated by world leaders at the UN climate summit in Paris or else it will be regulated to do so.” – Professor Daniel Scott, University of Waterloo
The study was co-authored by researchers from NHTV Breda University, Lund University, and the University of Canterbury.
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