Plane crazy: Tourism demand for air travel leads to rise in carbon pollution


CLIMATE CHANGE: Tourism in India, such as outside Delhi’s
Jama Masjid, has put the country fourth on the list of pollutors
CLIMATE CHANGE: Tourism in India, such as outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid, has put the country fourth on the list of pollutors

DOMESTIC and internation­al tourism account for eight per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, four times more than previously estimated, according to a study pub­lished on Monday (7). As in past decades, the United States is the single largest emitter of tourism-re­lated carbon emissions, with other wealthy nations – Ger­many, Canada and Britain – also in the top 10. But fast-growing middle classes have moved several emerging economies up the ranking, with China in sec­ond place and India, Mexico and Brazil in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. The multi-trillion dollar industry’s carbon footprint is expanding rapidly, driven by demand for energy-intensive air travel, researchers report­ed in the journal Nature Cli­mate Change. “Tourism is set to grow faster than many other eco­nomic sectors,” with revenue projected to swell by four per cent annually through 2025, noted lead author Arunima Malik, a researcher at the University of Sydney’s busi­ness school. Holding the sector’s carbon pollution in check will likely require carbon taxes or CO2 trading schemes for aviation, the researchers concluded. International travel involv­ing long-haul flights is among the fastest-growing sectors, and could threaten efforts to rein in planet-warming carbon pollution. The total number of air passengers is expected to al­most double by 2036 to 7.8 billion per year, according to the International Air Trans­port Association (IATA). The aviation industry ac­counts for two per cent of all human-generated CO2 emis­sions, and would rank 12th if it were a country. “We see very fast tourism demand growth from China and India over the past few years, and expect this trend will continue in the next dec­ade or so,” Ya-Sen Sun, a pro­fessor at the University of Queensland Business School in Australia, and co-author of the study, said. “What’s worrying is that people with a rising income tend to travel further, more frequently, and with…

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