Climate Change & Tourism: Not Whether, But How Much!

It’s Real, and It’s Happening
The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) recently issued a report outlining how the EU would lose between EUR 20 billion and EUR 65 billion if we were to experience the climate projected for the 2080s today, with a temperature rise of between 2.5° Celsius to 5.4° Celsius.

The PESETA (‘Projection of economic impacts of climate change in sectors of the European Union based on bottom-up analysis’) project evaluated the annual economic impacts of climate change in Europe in coastal systems, river flooding, agriculture and tourism — four elements that are sensitive to climate change.

The study presented diverse regional impacts of climate change across the EU: southern and central Europe would sustain a number of damages, while northern Europe would be the only region to benefit from climate change, especially in terms of the economy and the four elements. Besides the increase in temperature, the report predicted that the sea level will rise between 48 cm and 88 cm.
On the whole, the EU’s economy would contract substantially each year. And global warming would have an adverse impact on the level of economic growth for Europeans. It should be noted, however, that the overall cost of global warming could be higher since the PESETA study did not take into account non-market variables including natural disasters or biodiversity. The report has suggested that welfare could drop by 0.2% if the temperature increases by 2.5°C. However, a 5.4°C increase could slash EU welfare growth by half.
In terms of the four elements, coastal systems (sea floods and migration costs) would decrease annual welfare by 0.46% and affect up to 5.5 million people. River flooding would decrease annual welfare by 0.24% and affect up to 400 000 people. Agriculture would sustain 10% losses in crop yields each year. Tourism is considered the only sector that will not really be affected, but officials speculate variances across the regions will emerge. Read the full report Impacts of climate change in tourism in Europe. PESETA-Tourism study

On the same course with European Union, a 2009 report published by the U.S. Climate Change Action Program called “Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region” is actually a comprehensive guidebook for dealing with those changes.

The report — a collaborative effort among the EPA, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — provides extensive findings on what the societal impacts of rising oceans are likely to be along with recommendations for how to cope with those impacts.

Sea levels along much of the U.S. coastline have risen 5 to 9 inches in the past 100 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are several causes for the rise, but one of them is the changing climate. If temperatures and ocean levels continue to rise, as climate change models predict, some of the first casualties in the global economy will be felt in the tourism sector.

Among other things, rising sea levels erode beaches; upset the delicate balance of wetlands, which are a major source of recreational activities as well as a habitat for wildlife; increase the sensitivity of coastal areas to flooding and storm damage; and affect coastal water supplies by increasing salt levels in both surface and groundwater.

On the same course, studies around the globe ( carribeanindian ocean, australia among others) measuring the impact of climate change for tourism and the local economies are confirming the aforementioned findings and raising concerns about the actions to be taken in the immediate future.

The Tourism Sector’s Response

During a week when world leaders gathered in Copenhagen to hash out a way to confront the grim effects of climate change, a Joint Communiqué from UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is taking place to set the Standard on Climate Change for the global travel & tourism sector.

In order to show their commitment both organisations will jointly host a side event during the COP-15 negotiations titled: Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change – Perspectives from the Travel & Tourism Sector. The event is highlighting innovators from the private and public sector from across the world and all sectors of the industry. Under the leadership of WTTC and UNWTO examples of best practice will be presented in order to communicate to policy-makers and the rest of the industry Travel & Tourism’s proactive approach to carbon emissions’ mitigation and adaptation.

A sound framework is critical for the Travel & Tourism industry to give companies the transparency necessary to make informed investment decisions, many of which can strongly influence a nation’s economic development. The Copenhagen Agreement provides a unique opportunity to set the foundation upon which a resilient green economy can be developed.

“UNWTO’s Davos Declaration Process on climate change response paved the way to position the tourism industry as a relevant player of global climate neutrality,” said UNWTO Secretary-General ad interim Taleb Rifai read UNWTO’s  Background Paper  From Davos to Copenhagen and beyond: advancing tourism’s response to climate change . “Joining forces for tourism to speak as one in Copenhagen responds furthermore to a key recommendation of the UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery, highlighting the importance of building a strong public-private dialogue and boosting strong partnerships. The great cross-cutting impact of our industry makes it necessary to establish and maintain this close collaboration,” he added, “and I am confident that together we will contribute to a better positioning of travel and tourism in the global climate response agenda.”

Check the full UNWTO list of resources for tourism & climate change

Read WTTC’s report Leading the Challenge on Climate Change

“Live the Deal” – New Travel & Tourism Climate Initiative launched in Copenhagen

To this direction, “Live the Deal”, an innovative, global campaign to help travel companies and destinations respond to Climate Change, reduce their carbon footprint and move to the Green Economy, was launched this week during the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

“Live the Deal” follows the pattern established in the UN led Copenhagen Seal the Deal campaign by its single minded focus, its simplicity and its broad based engagement goals. It will seek to encourage the sector directly and through representative organizations. The campaign will be underpinned by a simple carbon calculation tool that allows easy correlation with government targets and implementation measures, as well as a Think Tank and Annual Innovations & Investment Summit. The inaugural Summit will be in Abu Dhabi in the last quarter of the year.

Watch the “Live the Deal”  Spot

5 thoughts on “Climate Change & Tourism: Not Whether, But How Much!

  1. More UNWTO rubbish, projects are good (though they still have to be adopted elsewhere in the industry), so are increases in efficiency. The problem is that the reduction of greenhouse gases per tourist has to be greater than the overall growth in tourism to lead to a reduction in the absolute amount of greenhouse gas emissions and this is not happening. This does not mean less tourist trips per se but it does require tourists to engage in aviation based tourism, and less long-distant aviation in particular, and change to more sustainable modes of transport. This the UNWTO is not encouraging.

  2. Thanks for your comment Michael. I fully agree on the limitations that must be taken for the aviation based tourism (please read a relevant post title “air travel & climate change: a paradox of our age in the articles & interviews section of my blog). As far as the UNWTO concerns, they might not be that effective when it comes to specific policy guidelines for cutting down the emissions but it seems that they’re getting on track.

  3. We should thank you for hosting such a informative portal. this site is not only knowledgeable but also bvery imaginative too. There normally are very few people who can write not so easy content that creatively. A lot of people keep looking for content on something like this. I Myself went through dozens of blogs to build up on knowhow about this.Keep me informed when you write more on the subject !!

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