Tourism and travel major obstacles to Paris targets

Rising carbon emissions from global tourism will make it impossible to achieve the Paris climate targets, according to research from the Delft University of Technology.

By 2100, the world’s population will be flying nine times as many kilometres as in 2015, and the average travel distance for all tourist destinations is set to double over the same period. Aviation’s share in tourism’s CO2 emissions will grow from 50 per cent in 2005 to more than 75 per cent in 2100.

This will lead to a major rise in aviation emissions, making it impossible to achieve the Paris climate targets, says Paul Peeters, a PhD candidate at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and a lector at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Tourists are currently responsible for around 5 per cent of all CO2 emissions, but the above calculations show that this proportion is set to rise significantly.

Although the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) announced measures in 2016 to reduce emissions by international aviation, these “will have a negligible effect,” argues Peeters.

“Even a combination of stringent measures, such as a 200 per cent tax on tickets, $1,000 per tonne CO2 carbon tax, maximum use of technology, 90 per cent subsidy on renewable biofuels and $200 billion per year investments in high-speed rail will not result in the sustainable development of tourism in terms of the economy and climate.”

According to Peeters, policymakers should focus on directly reducing the volume of air travel and the growth in the distance travelled. Individual countries will also need to take responsibility to restrict the number of flights at airports.

“Keeping responsibility for climate policy for international aviation with the ICAO, as is currently the case, almost guarantees failure,” argues Peeters. The ICAO’s primary role is to represent the interests of the aviation industry, making it unlikely to succeed in reducing the worldwide volume of aviation.

 

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