Global tourism’s carbon footprint is 4 times bigger than estimated

Access to the comments Comments
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
Global tourism’s carbon footprint is 4 times bigger than estimated
Copyright  Reuters

Germany has one of the highest carbon footprints related to tourism, according to a new study.

The US topped the list followed by China, Germany, and India.

The study published in the nature journal by researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia, took into consideration tourism activities as well as commodities purchased by tourists (air travel, accommodation, food, fuel, and shopping).

The new study examined the global carbon flows between 160 countries from 2009 to 2013.

The researchers found that tourism's global carbon footprint was around four times higher than estimated and accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Travellers from affluent countries are a major cause of emission growth in tourism, said the study, since tourists from wealthy countries "demand a high proportion of transport (air travel), goods (shopping) and hospitality (accommodation and restaurants)."

The researchers also found that tourists from well-to-do countries travelled to other wealthy countries.

For the top countries — US, China, Germany, and India — the travel was mostly domestic.

While "travellers from Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway exert a much higher carbon footprint than in their own country."

Germany's high carbon footprint in tourism might not be such a big surprise as it also features among the top five tourism spenders in 2017, according to the World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) latest tourism barometer.

China topped the UNWTO's list followed by the US, Germany, UK, and France.

In a press release, the tourism agency said that expenditure from Germany and the UK increased 3% while France's increased 1%.

Tourism spending also grew considerably in Sweden (+14%) and Spain (+12%).

Europe's top 10 tourism spenders in 2017:

1. Germany

2. UK

3. France

4. Russia

5. Italy

6. Spain

7. Belgium

8. Netherlands

9. Switzerland

10. Sweden