CO2 emission from transport-related tourism, a threat: report

Current ambition of decarbonisation of transport seems illusive

Environment

Tourism

December 5, 2019

/ By / Kolkata

India Outbound

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The number of tourists travelling across borders is expected to reach 1.8 billion a year by 2030, according to the latest UNWTO predictions. This will be alongside a further 15.6 billion domestic tourist arrivals. Such growth will bring many opportunities, including socio-economic development and job creation. At the same time, however, greenhouse gas emissions linked to tourism-related transport are also rising, challenging the tourism sector’s ambition to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

Transport-related emissions from tourism are expected to account for 5.3 pc of all man-made CO2 emissions by 2030, up from five percent in 2016, a landmark new report from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the International Transport Forum (ITF) shows. At the same time, as tourist numbers rise and the sector makes progress in achieving low-carbon travel emissions per-passenger-km, are expected to decline over the coming decade. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls for enhanced cooperation between the transport and tourism sectors to effectively transform tourism for climate action.

Launched at an official side-event of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme during the UN Climate Summit, COP25 in Madrid, the report presents the emissions produced by the different modes of tourism transport. As the number of both international and domestic tourists continues to rise, this data is presented alongside the predicted growth in emissions to 2030 and is set against the so-called ‘current ambition´ for the decarbonisation of transport.

Presenting the report, UNWTO executive director Manuel Butler said, “This comprehensive study analyses the environmental impact of the different modes of transport within the tourism sector. It is now for the tourism sector, especially tourism policymakers to use data effectively and ensure the sector plays a leading role in addressing the climate emergency.”

Ovais Sarmad, the deputy executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) addressed the need to scale efforts towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement. He said, “While tourism is mentioned in many ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ as a big concern, not enough has yet been done. The industry must do more, but governments must align their policies so that at the international level we can collectively work to increase ambition. The One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme is a vital ongoing mechanism to promote sustainable tourism around the world.”

touristThe research further suggests that, against the current ambition scenario, transport-related CO2 emissions from tourism are predicted to increase from 1,597 million tonnes to 1,998 million tonnes between 2016 and 2030, representing a 25 pc rise. Also, during the same period, international and domestic arrivals are expected to increase from 20 billion to 37 billion, mainly driven by domestic tourism (from 18.8 billion to 35.6 billion), followed by international arrivals (1.2 billion to 1.8 billion). The transport-related emissions from tourism represented five percent of all man-made emissions in 2016 and will increase to 5.3 pc by 2030. Tourism-related transport emissions represented 22 pc of all transport emissions in 2016 and will continue doing so in 2030 (21 pc). 

Tourism’s transport-related CO2 emissions remain a major challenge and require tourism to work closely with transport in order to support its commitment to accelerate the decarbonisation process and the implementation of a high ambition scenario. In addition, the tourism sector must determine its own high ambition scenario, complementing the efforts of the transport sector. Here, tourism would advance towards significantly decoupling growth from emissions in order to grow within the international climate targets.

Though India is claiming that its per capita carbon emissions are much lesser than the developed countries, it is still the fourth-largest emitter of carbon in the world after China, the US and the EU. The experts give more credit to the economic slowdown rather than to the sustainable measures being taken much seriously from the urban mobility point of view that effects tourism carbon footprint at large.

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