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Challenges of tourism in a low-carbon economy


  • Stefan Gössling,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden
    2. Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Western Norway Research Institute, Sogndal, Norway
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  • Daniel Scott,

    1. Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
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  • C. Michael Hall

    1. Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
    2. School of Tourism & Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
    3. Department of Geography, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
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This article reviews the interrelationships of tourism and climate change from a mitigation perspective. Tourism is an increasingly important part of the global economy that is dependent on the annual movement of billions of travelers, often over large distances. The current contribution of the tourism sector to global climate change is reliably established at approximately 5% of CO2 emissions, though national tourism economies can be considerably more carbon-intense. Great uncertainty remains regarding tourism's future emission trajectories. However, in all scenarios, tourism is anticipated to grow substantially and to account for an increasingly large share of global greenhouse gas emissions, particularly if other sectors manage to achieve absolute emission reductions. The emission reduction challenges facing tourism in a low-carbon economy are analyzed and current industry, government, and consumer responses critically examined. The article ends with a discussion of the implications of business-as-usual emissions trajectories versus the +2°C climate policy target for future tourism development. WIREs Clim Change 2013, 4:525–538. doi: 10.1002/wcc.243

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.