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Published: 2023-12-11 Updated: 2023-12-12, 11:50

First ever climate change stocktake for global tourism for COP-2

NEWS The first Tourism and Climate Change Stocktake report has been released by the Tourism Panel on Climate Change (TPCC) concurrent with the UN COP-28 Climate Conference. Its 24 key findings aim to support policymakers and the tourism industry to accelerate planning and investment toward low-carbon and climate-resilient global tourism.

Text: Simon Oja

The report finds that many countries support tourism because of its integral role in contributing to economic development. There is limited evidence that tourism growth has been decoupled from increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Tourism now contributes directly and indirectly about 8-10% of global emissions.

Umeå University expert Dr Cenk Demiroglu said the report is a significant milestone because it is the first of its kind to assess the progress and gaps in the state of tourism worldwide regarding the climate crisis.

“The TPCC is a science-based collaboration of over 60 international leading tourism and climate experts from over 30 countries and is a proactive sectoral approach which will provide much-needed evidence for tourism to reduce emissions and adapt to climate hazards,” Dr. Demiroglu said. “In my expertise area, ski tourism, we have addressed the rapid global diffusion of snowmaking adaptations to compensate for the lack of natural snow, as well as the emerging debates about its sustainability due to the high water and energy consumption requirements. We have also noted the complexity of the issue by showing how such adaptation challenge is also a matter of mitigation, as lack of snowmaking could also mean longer trips to other snow-reliable destinations, hence higher emissions.”

 

Some of the Stocktake key findings include:

- Except during COVID-19 disruptions, tourism is growing faster than the global economy, trending toward longer distances and more emission-intensive travel.

- Eight to ten percent of global emissions are from tourism, with emissions concentrated mainly in high-income countries acting both as traveler residences and destinations.

- Tourism, air travel, and cruise tourism will fall short of their 2030 emission reduction goals.

- Air travel remains the most challenging component of global tourism to realize deep emission reductions.

- The greenhouse gas emission intensity of hotel operations is gradually improving in some regional markets but will fall short of their 2030 emission reduction target without acceleration and expansion globally.

- Consumer behavior and tourism marketing must shift away from the highest-emitting forms of tourism, a necessary step to achieve GHG reduction targets.

- Global tourism emissions are heavily concentrated in high-income outbound markets and destinations.

- Compounding climate hazards are anticipated to curtail tourism in many climate-vulnerable countries where tourism represents a large part of the economy.

- Current forms of tourism, such as ski tourism at low elevations, beach tourism on highly erodible coastlines, and some nature-based tourism, will not be viable at some destinations because of accelerating climate hazards and limits to adaptation measures.

- The unequal distribution of tourism emissions and the potential impacts of climate hazards have important climate justice implications.

- In low-income countries, climate and tourism risks overlay with many other factors, such as poverty and public sector debt, requiring climate-resilient policymaking and climate finance.

- Despite an increase in sectoral climate pledges, tourism policy is not yet integrated with global or national climate change frameworks. Most national tourism policies or plans give limited consideration to climate change.

- Governments and international development assistance continue to invest in tourism infrastructure that is climate-vulnerable and linked to high GHG emission intensity.

- Research and scientific capacity to inform evidence-based climate action in tourism has increased substantially, but training in industry and tourism education programs remains very limited.

 

The Tourism and Climate Change Stocktake was released on Monday, 11 December, and is available at TPCC