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Tourism responsible for 8 percent of greenhouse gases

Posted by edmundironside on May 9, 2018

Foreword: We import food from New Zealand … even though it makes no sense from a planetary standpoint. —Physicist James E. Hansen

Sent by a reader in Sydney

Tourism is responsible for a twelfth of world greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions from tourism were found to be highest in the United States, China, Germany and India, according to a review of 160 nations led by the University of Sydney researchers and published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Flights, hotels, food and production of souvenirs, accounted for emission of the equivalent of 4.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013, the latest data available [tourism has been growing at an annual rate of about 4 percent since. Editor] or 8 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases, up from 3.9 billion in 2009, according to the report.

The carbon footprint of global tourism

By Manfred Lenzen, et al.  Published by Nature Climate Change (2018) doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0141-x


Tourism contributes significantly to global gross domestic product, and is forecast to grow at an annual 4%, thus outpacing many other economic sectors. However, global carbon emissions related to tourism are currently not well quantified. Here, we quantify tourism-related global carbon flows between 160 countries, and their carbon footprints under origin and destination accounting perspectives. We find that, between 2009 and 2013, tourism’s global carbon footprint has increased from 3.9 to 4.5 GtCO2e, four times more than previously estimated, accounting for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transport, shopping and food are significant contributors. The majority of this footprint is exerted by and in high-income countries. The rapid increase in tourism demand is effectively outstripping the decarbonization of tourism-related technology. We project that, due to its high carbon intensity and continuing growth, tourism will constitute a growing part of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

If you are flying to New Zealand

“If you are one of the 2.6 million tourists who fly to New Zealand each year to hike the deadly mountain paths, swim the toxic lakes, or watch whales and dolphins death throes, you are committing a double act of eco-terrorism:

  1. You contribute to burning an estimated 3.2 billion gallons of fuel flying in and out of New Zealand. [Each liter of fuel produces about 2.4 kg of CO2 or 8.8 kg/U.S. gallon ~ 19.4 pounds/U.S. gallon.]
  2. You destroy the marine ecosystems and harm the creatures you come in contact with.”


8 Responses to “Tourism responsible for 8 percent of greenhouse gases”

  1. Egan said

    What’s your estimate for Tokyo Olympics carbon footprint?

    • Ken said

      About 67 billion kg (67,000 kt) of GHGs.

      Here’s some additional information on how the Tokyo Olympics carbon footprint was calculated:

      “Staging the Olympics comes with a huge environmental footprint. Flying an estimated 28,500 athletes and staff to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio generated more than 2,000 kilotonnes (kt) of greenhouse gases (GHG) — not to mention the 2,500 kt of GHGs associated with bringing in about half a million spectators.”

      Flying the athletes and staff to Japan: 2,000 kilotonnes (kt) of GHGs

      Japan’s government expects the “Olympics effect” will bring approximately an extra 10 million visitors to the country in 2020.

      10 million visitors carbon footprint: 50,000 kt of GHGs

      Period of the Games Friday, 24 July – Sunday, 9 August 2020 (17 days)
      Para Olympics: Period of the Games Tuesday, 25 August – Sunday, 6 September 2020 (13 days) Tickets sold Olympics 8.8 million; Paralympics 2.5 million

      Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Expecting 920,000 spectators and workers per day (average travel of 100km traveled per person x 30 days x 80g/km of GHGs traveling on a combination of trains, buses, taxis and local flights): 220 kt of GHG [https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49349566]

      Total cost of infrastructure and other spending expected at $25 billion
      Amount of GHG for every dollar spent: 584g/$ – carbon footprint: 14,600 kt of

      Estimated footprint for Tokyo Olympics: 2,000+50,000+220+14,600= 66,820kt GHGs

  2. Paul said

    It goes beyond committing a heinous crime. You’d have to be a motherfucking alien of the most evil kind to support or participate in the Olympics.

    • Caleb said

      Speaking of “heinous crime” and “motherfucking aliens of the most evil kind”, there were a total of about 14.5 million arrivals and departures at/from NZ airports (including 6.2m NZ-resident travellers) in the year to July 2019. Additionally, about 400,000 frigging tourists travelling on cruise ships polluted the air and coastal waters.
      The emissions of the average cruise passenger are said to be similar to a return flight from Tokyo to London.

      Based on the figures provided by Ken, the total carbon footprint of the air travellers to and from NZ tops 70,000 kt of GHGs for the year.

      Ken’s figures are consistent with most of the online CO2e calculators.

    • Kazu said

      Japan’s crimes against nature goes way beyond hosting the Olympics, manufacturing deadly autos/seat belts, and even exporting incurable social diseases like N. gonorrhoeae H041 to the rest of the world.
      The parasitic nation imports about 96 per cent of their energy and 80 per cent of the food, laughing all the way to the “Pachinkos” and “eat as much as you like” restaurants.

      • WR said

        Not to mention wholesale nuclear pollution of Pacific ocean!

      • A.E. said

        How sad the little pricks’ parasitic existence so egregiously burdens rest of the world.
        A classic decimation process is in order Trust Mother Nature will correct the anomaly soon!

    • Miranda said

      WE the homo sapiens have the primary existential obligation and moral duty to prevent the Olympics and similar manmade global catastrophes with ecocidal carbon footprints from happening!

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