An inventory of the energy use and carbon dioxide emissions from island tourism based on a life cycle assessment approach



Tourism is an economic activity that results in a wide range of environmental impacts. The contribution of tourism to human-induced climate change is an increasingly important issue. However, the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from tourism products have never been thoroughly discussed. This study uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to explore energy use and CO2 emissions of island tourism and then compare the environmental loads of different tourism subsectors.

This study uses three Taiwanese islands (Penghu, Kinmen, and Green islands) as examples to examine the LCA approach, and it calculates and compares the energy usage and CO2 emissions of the transportation, accommodation, and recreation activity sectors. Results show that each tourist consumes 502, 447, and 118 MJ of energy per day on Penghu, Kinmen, and Green islands, respectively. Each tourist also generates 34.0, 27.9, and 7.1 kg of CO2 emissions on Penghu, Kinmen, and Green islands, respectively. Each Penghu tourist per day consumes 4.25 times as much energy as each Green tourist, and each Penghu tourist generates 4.7 times the CO2 emissions as each Green tourist. In summary, the transportation sector generates the largest energy (49–67%) and the largest proportion of CO2 emissions (58–72.4%); the airplane sector is the primary contributor. Finally, this study discuses the advantages and limitations of the LCA approach. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 2011