First ever climate change stocktake for global tourism for the United Nations COP-28

The first Tourism and Climate Change Stocktake report has been released by the Tourism Panel on Climate Change (TPCC) concurrent with the UN COP-28 Climate Conference. Its 24 key findings aim to support policy makers and the tourism industry to accelerate planning and investment toward low carbon and climate resilient global tourism.

The report finds that many countries support tourism because of its integral role in contributing to economic development. There is limited evidenced that tourism growth has been decouple from increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Tourism is one of the largest economic sectors in the world and it contributes directly and indirectly about 8-10% of global emissions.

The report is significant milestone because it is the first of its kind to assess the progress and gaps in the state of tourism worldwide regarding the climate crisis.

Professor Jarkko Saarinen is an expert member of the TPCC’s panel. This global assessment report resonates extremely well with the University of Oulu’s research strategy and new specified global challenges, such as: Mitigating climate change and securing biodiversity, and Resilient and secure society.

The TPCC is a science-based collaboration of over 60 international leading tourism and climate experts from over 30 countries and is a proactive sectoral approach which will provide much needed evidence for tourism to reduce emissions and adapt to climate hazards.

Overall, the key findings indicate the entire tourism sector needs to go further and faster to rapidly reduce tourism emissions and accelerate climate resilient tourism development.

Some of the Stocktake key findings include:

  • Except during COVID-19 disruptions, tourism is growing faster than the global economy, trending toward longer distance and more emission intensive travel.
  • Eight to ten per cent of global emissions are from tourism with emissions concentrated mainly in high-income countries acting both as traveller residences and destinations.
  • Tourism, air travel, and cruise tourism will fall short of their 2030 emission reduction goals.
  • Air travel remains the most difficult component of global tourism to realise deep emission reductions.
  • The greenhouse gas emission intensity of hotel operations is gradually improving in some regional markets but without acceleration and expansion globally, will fall short of their 2030 emission reduction target.
  • Consumer behaviour and tourism marketing needs to shift away from the highest-emitting forms of tourism, a necessary step to achieve GHG reduction targets.
  • Global tourism emissions are heavily concentrated in high-income outbound markets and destinations.
  • Compounding climate hazards are anticipated to curtail tourism to many climate vulnerable countries where tourism represents a large part of the economy.
  • Current forms of tourism, such as ski tourism at low elevations, beach tourism in highly erodible coastlines, and some nature-based tourism will not be viable at some destinations because of accelerating climate hazards and limits to adaptation measures.
  • The unequal distribution of tourism emissions and potential impacts of climate hazards have important climate justice implications.
  • In low-income countries, climate and tourism risks overlay with many other factors, such as poverty and public sector debt, requiring climate resilient policy making and climate finance.
  • Tourism policy is not yet integrated with global or national climate change frameworks, despite an increase in sectoral climate pledges. Most national tourism policies or plans give limited consideration to climate change.
  • Governments and international development assistance continue to invest in tourism infrastructure that is climate vulnerable and linked to high GHG emission intensity.
  • Research and scientific capacity to inform evidence-based climate action in tourism has increased substantially, but training in industry and tourism education programs remains very limited.

The Tourism and Climate Change Stocktake was released on Monday 11 December and is available at www.tpcc.inf .

Last updated: 15.12.2023