The upcoming Paris conference on global warming aims to set real, concrete goals and guidelines to allow us, as a global community, to keep climate change to within two degrees (Celsius) of pre-industrial levels. Doing so will go a long way toward preserving the planet, but it will require finding ways to reduce carbon emissions around the world.
Those cuts are going to have to be made in various national economies, especially in the five nations that create the most emissions, namely China (25.9%), the USA (15.9%), India (15.9%), Russia (5.2%), and Japan (3.8%).
But coming in at number 6, responsible for 3.7% of the world’s carbon emissions, is global tourism. Every year, billions of people travel somewhere on holiday, and tourism can have a lot of positive effects.
One in 11 jobs, globally, depends on tourism, and going to new places and meeting different people is a great way to not only learn about the world, but to become more accepting of people who are different, and that’s great.
But global warming threatens a lot of the destinations people choose. From ski resorts to beaches, local wildlife to cultural heritage, global warming threatens that industry, and so it’s in the tourism industry’s best interest to help reduce emissions.
The tourism sector has pledged to reduce emissions by 50% by 2035, which is a pretty big jump. It won’t be all that difficult, either, as doing so will only cost a little less than US$1 billion. That translates to basically everyone paying an extra US $11 per trip. So for the cost of a burger and fries, you can help reduce emissions while you’re on vacation.
Those costs come from finding ways to make flights, lodging, car rentals, and public transit all greener, with the added benefit that it isn’t just tourists who use these services. Greener airplanes, for example, would be a huge step forward.