UNWTO urges deeper collaboration to curb carbon emissions from tourism

Transport-related emissions from tourism are expected to account for 5.3 per cent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, up from 5 per cent in 2016, according to a new report from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Transport Forum (ITF).

At the same time, as tourist numbers rise and the sector makes progress in achieving low-carbon travel, emissions per passenger kilometre aInternational Transport Forumre expected to decline over the coming decade.

UNWTO urges tourism industry to take climate action at the UN climate change conference in Madrid

Against this backdrop, UNWTO is calling 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 Transport Related CO2 Emissions of the Tourism Secto 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 ‘current ambition’ for the decarbonisation of transport.

“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 policy makers, to use data effectively and ensure the sector plays a leading role in addressing the climate emergency,” UNWTO executive director Manuel Butler said at the event.

Ovais Sarmad, the deputy executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, added: “While tourism is mentioned in many Nationally Determined Contributions as a big concern, not enough has yet been done. 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.”

Some of the main findings from the study are:

  • Transport-related CO2 emissions from tourism are predicted to increase by 25 per cent, from 1,597 million tonnes to 1,998 million tonnes between 2016 and 2030.
  • During the same period, international and domestic arrivals are expected to increase from 20 billion to 37 billion, mainly driven by domestic tourism, followed by international arrivals.
  • Transport-related emissions from tourism represented 5 per cent of all man-made emissions in 2016 and will increase to 5.3 per cent by 2030.
  • Tourism-related transport emissions represented 22 per cent of all transport emissions in 2016, and will continue doing so in 2030.

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.

In addition, the tourism industry must determine its own high ambition scenario, complementing the efforts of the transport sector, such as by significantly decoupling growth from emissions, allowing expansion within the international climate targets.

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