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Tourism�s impact on climate change and its mitigation challenges. How can tourism become �climatically sustainable�?

Peeters, P.
Bibliographical information:
Peeters, P. (2017). Tourism’s impact on climate change and its mitigation challenges. How can tourism become ‘climatically sustainable’? (PhD), TU Delft.
The continued growth of CO2 emissions of the global tourism sector will make it impossible to keep the global temperature rise below the limit of 2 ° C, internationally agreed in Paris 2015. The cause for this is the strong growth of air transport by holidaymakers, business travellers and travellers staying at friends and relatives. In the year 2100 air transport will be almost nine times larger than it was in 2015, causing the average distance per trip to double. As a result, air transport’s share of tourism’s CO2 emissions will increase from 50% in 2005 to 76% in 2100, while air transport covers only about one-third of the tourism market by 2100. The international civil aviation organisation (ICAO) is responsible for mitigating international aviation’s CO2 emissions. In 2016, ICAO proposed measures but my study shows these will fail to reduce aviation's emissions significantly. I developed a system dynamics global tourism & transport model, and I used that to test combinations of strong policy measures like a worldwide 200% air ticket tax, $1000/ton CO2 carbon tax, maximum technological efficiency improvements, 90% subsidies for biofuels, and $200 billion per year investments in high-speed rail development. Such policies only lead to economically and climatically sustainable tourism development when air transport volume growth is legally restricted to below its current volume. This scenario still allows for tourism transport growth by a factor three ensuring freedom of travel comparable to the current situation. The CO2 emissions of most elements of tourism – accommodation, rail and car transport – can, according to current knowledge, be reduced close to zero, but this is not possible for air transport. The reasons are that ‘evolutionary’ technology develops too slow, technological revolutions will come too late if at all, and sustainable biofuels have a minor impact. My main recommendation to policymakers is to develop policies that will curb the growth of average travel distances and the slowly reduce average distances and the share of air transport.

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