Combat Climate Change
Reduce tourism’s carbon footprint to address the sector’s contribution to climate change
Climate change threatens all life on the planet, as well as the very destinations that tourism relies on. From lush tropical islands to snowy mountain peaks, your favorite vacation spots could be at risk. As the planet warms, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and increasing temperatures are impacting ecosystems and communities around the world. Beaches are shrinking, coral reefs are bleaching, and alpine resorts are left snowless and dry. If we want to save our planet and protect these special places, it’s up to each and every one of us to reduce our impact.
Tourism’s Carbon Footprint
Tourism is not just a victim of global warming – it also contributes to the problem. Tourism alone is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions. As more and more people travel each year, this footprint is only growing.
When we travel, carbon emissions are generated throughout our trips. While flying is the largest source of these emissions, other activities, such as using the AC in hotels or taking a boat ride, produce CO2 as well. Beyond these direct emissions, tourism development can also cause CO2 to be released by degrading ecosystems that act as carbon sinks.
If actions aren’t taken to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint and ensure the industry operates more sustainably, the resulting impacts on the environment and human life could be devastating.
What's At Stake
While climate change affects all destinations, certain environments and communities are more vulnerable to its impacts
Small IslandsThe small size, isolated location, and coastal geography of islands leaves them especially prone to climate change impacts. Rising sea levels and intense storms are already flooding coastal areas, eroding beaches, and damaging infrastructure. As sea levels continue to rise, some low-lying islands could even become completely submerged underwater. On top of this, climate change is likely to place added stress on islands’ already limited freshwater resources and exacerbate the risk of severe water shortages.
Oceans & ReefsAs climate change causes oceans to become warmer and more acidic, our planet’s coral reefs and marine life are in danger. Coral bleaching, disease, and severe weather are just a few of the impacts threatening to destroy entire reefs, along with the fish and other marine animals that depend on them.
MountainsDespite their powerful appearance, mountain ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts. As temperatures rise, snowfall in the mountains is decreasing. This leads to shorter winter sports seasons and limited freshwater resources for surrounding communities. Climate change also brings on an increased risk of environmental disasters such as drought, flooding, avalanches, and wildfires.
Indigenous PeoplesWhile climate change impacts all human life, it disproportionately impacts indigenous peoples due to their close relationship with the natural world. Indigenous communities rely heavily on the land and its natural resources for their traditional livelihoods and cultural identities. Although they only make up 5% of the global population, indigenous people occupy a quarter of the earth’s surface and safeguard 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity. Because of their deep connection to nature, indigenous communities are extremely susceptible to global warming impacts such as floods, droughts, rising ocean temperatures, and disease. As the environment around them changes it can considerably affect their economic, physical, and cultural well-being.
Polar RegionsClimate change is even being felt at the ends of the earth, where it’s heating up the earth’s icy polar regions. As temperatures rise, sea ice is shrinking, glaciers are retreating, and permafrost is thawing. In fact, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and is expected to become ice-free during the summer months before mid-century. As warming temperatures alter the landscape of these frozen environments, animals that depend on ice for their survival will struggle to adapt. As their habitats disappear, species such as polar bears, penguins, and walruses will face an uncertain future and could even go extinct.
What We're Doing
Carbon Footprint Measurement
We help individuals and organizations quantify their travel or business emissions
We help travelers and tourism businesses understand how their activities contribute to climate change impacts
We help travelers and tourism businesses adopt responsible practices that lower the amount of CO2 they produce
We help individuals and businesses compensate for their travel footprint by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world
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