BONN : Price of your vacay. To what extent does the travel industry contribute to climate change horror?

When it's high season on the Spanish tourist island of Mallorca, it's not unusual to have up to ten aircrafts on the horizon at the same time. Exact 2014 arrivals and departures were scheduled at Palm's airport last weekend - an average of one takeoff and landing every 90 seconds. During the summer months, this is a normal volume of air traffic for Mallorca.


''There are few places in the world that contribute as much to global warming as Mallorca,'' criticises Jaume Adrover, spokesman for the Malloreon environmental group Terra Ferida. ''And this is due to only one activity : tourism.''

Over the past 20 years, Adrover says, the island's airport has registered 1.4 million aircraft movements with 194.5 million passengers - the majority of them : vacationers from countries such as Germany and Great Britain.

The consequences of the island's tourism strategy for the climate are enormous. Adrover adds. In the course of the past two decades, 100 trillion tons of CO2 alone have been emitted by air traffic on Mallorca.

The Balearic Island is just one particularly extreme example. According to experts, tourism causes about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. ''At first glance, that may not sound like much,'' says Wolfgang Strasdas, head of research at the Centre for Sustainable Tourism at Eberswalde University of Applied Sciences. 

But, he adds, no other industries that account for a larger share. But every single one of them must make a contribution to saying, he explains. ''Tourism is an important industry when we talk about reducing greenhouse emissions.''

First and foremost, it's about mobility. That's because most of the emissions caused by travel to and from the destination.'' Of course, what I eat on vacation also plays a role.'' For example, tourists eat a much more ''emissions intensive'' diet, such as eating more meat than usual and because of the food buffets at hotels and restaurants.

According to the German Hotel and Restaurant Association, between just under 17 to nearly 50 kilograms of CO2 are being produced per guest and overnight stay, depending on the star category of the hotel.

Water consumption per person in five-star hotels, on the other hand, is a staggering 522 litres a day. The cruise industry also has a lot of catching up to do.

''Although individual pilot projects give cause for hope, the industry as a whole is not yet on course to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement in time,'' says environmentalist group NABU, for example.


The tourism industry has realised that the days of carefree travel are over. ''We can't go on like this,'' said Norbert Fiebig, President of the German Travel Association [DRV]. Air travel and the emissions caused by it are the industry's ''Achilles' Heel''. The goal must be CO2 neutral mobility.

The World Tourism Organization also places the onus on the industry itself. CO2 emissions from tourism rose by 60% between 2005 and 2016 according to the so-called Glasgow Declaration, which was presented at the U.N. Climate Change Conference 2021 and which 600 representatives of the tourism industry have now signed. They all pledged to become climate neutral by 2050 at the latest.

BUT that would not be easy. After all, the aviation industry, of all sectors, is unlikely to see any fundamental change, at least in the short term.

''Progress in this area has been so slow that serious doubts are warranted about about the aviation industry's ability to achieve its zero-emissions target by mid-century,'' criticizes the think tank Transport & Environment.

Waiting for alternate fuels to be developed could prove counterproductive, it says, as large-scale production is still a long way off. In addition, the volume of air travel continues to increase year after year, which negates any savings.

''As of now, flying less is the most effective way to reduce emissions.''

The Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks DW and The Express Tribune.


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