Post Template

Put your Stand First here
Cras euismod, erat eu interdum viverra, leo odio sollicitudin est, id blandit nulla neque et eros. Donec hendrerit tortor ipsum, in sodales orci porttitor eget. Phasellus molestie pellentesque lorem eu rutrum.

Sed mattis odio metus, vel vestibulum massa malesuada id. Maecenas euismod magna quis sapien sollicitudin sodales. Aenean hendrerit dignissim sapien, faucibus congue lorem posuere non. Nulla suscipit orci eu sodales maximus. Vivamus mollis, mi ac scelerisque condimentum, massa lorem dignissim arcu, eu efficitur ipsum justo at felis. Proin tristique pulvinar pretium. Aliquam sed malesuada felis, vitae ultricies nisl. Nunc blandit semper congue. Proin nec augue cursus ligula suscipit tincidunt eu non enim. Aenean mattis diam eget purus facilisis facilisis. Mauris efficitur ultrices eros, in lobortis enim ullamcorper non. Sed convallis libero erat, ac mollis quam aliquam non. Phasellus varius, magna et sodales cursus, tortor neque varius orci, sagittis finibus mauris odio eget risus.

Aenean semper risus at diam ullamcorper, ac pulvinar purus gravida. Quisque egestas sapien ut tellus convallis laoreet. Proin interdum, neque id mattis maximus, urna nisi sollicitudin ante, sit amet sollicitudin enim neque a velit. Aliquam non elit blandit, blandit erat id, molestie dui. Proin cursus vel arcu convallis dapibus. Donec ac posuere lacus. Pellentesque rhoncus massa dolor. Cras dapibus elementum eros a tempus. Aliquam molestie tempus arcu, ac finibus lectus varius nec. Ut iaculis maximus elit. Vestibulum dolor ante, posuere ac arcu nec, semper convallis odio. Sed massa magna, malesuada id sem quis, eleifend scelerisque metus. Curabitur a lacus dolor.

Pellentesque viverra accumsan facilisis. Curabitur a ultricies lectus. Aliquam a ullamcorper elit, quis efficitur tortor. Maecenas sed orci nisl. Ut sed risus eget dui sagittis consectetur nec at nulla. Pellentesque quis orci gravida, dapibus purus non, porttitor urna. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Maecenas tristique condimentum dolor in consequat. Donec eu ultrices arcu, in ultrices mauris. Donec iaculis laoreet purus. Proin vitae nisl mollis dui tempus aliquet. Nullam pellentesque ex ut justo pharetra vulputate.

Camping in England’s churches

Inspired by peer-to-peer travel sites such as Airbnb, the Churches Conservation Trust, a registered UK charity, has opened up some […]

The post Camping in England’s churches appeared first on World Travel Guide.

Holiday on a budget: 21 great travel tips

While we’d all love to have that perfect annual holiday, the reality is that many of us can struggle to […]

The post Holiday on a budget: 21 great travel tips appeared first on World Travel Guide.

Top 5: Chocoholic experiences

Dating back thousands of years to 1900 BCE, cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate has been around for a long […]

The post Top 5: Chocoholic experiences appeared first on World Travel Guide.

Where to go on holiday in August 2019

Best for families: Edinburgh, Scotland We know what you’re thinking; we must be crazy to suggest Edinburgh in August when […]

The post Where to go on holiday in August 2019 appeared first on World Travel Guide.

Top 5: Former Olympic sites to visit

There’s nothing like the Olympic Games to bring the global community together every four years. The creation of this momentous […]

The post Top 5: Former Olympic sites to visit appeared first on World Travel Guide.

Climate change and travel

Whether for business or leisure, the vast majority of us travel a lot. One study across 189 countries found that tourism accounted for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. So should we travel at all?

Each year, we see more and more news stories appear. We’ve all followed the Brexit saga, the Iranian situation, the protests in Hong Kong and the trade stand-off between the U.S. and China. While these are undoubtedly important events that affect many millions of people, another issue that is just as important fails to receive the same kind of news coverage. This is the pressing and wide-reaching effects of climate change.

Science has offered us a prescient glimpse into what our future looks like and if things continue as they are, our world is in dire straits. In fact, we’re all already living with these consequences. While we could spend time castigating corporations for their mass manufacturing, pillorying politicians for sitting on their hands and flaying friends for their plastic bottle usage, our energy is better spent on trying to mitigate the effects of climate change before it becomes too late.

For those who love travelling and seeing the world, this is proving to be a particularly difficult quandary, as travel also happens to be one of the biggest contributors to the climate change problem. Some have argued that we shouldn’t even travel at all. Yet, there are other arguments too. For example, there are millions of people who rely on travel and tourism to survive. Travelling can also help visitors understand, experience and accept the cultural and societal differences that exist around the world. Despite these benefits, the drawback of throwing humanity’s existence into question is incomparable with anything else.

So what are the consequences of climate change? What is the true impact of travelling on climate change? Are there types of travel that are more environmentally friendly? And what can be done to offset and mitigate our carbon footprint? While we don’t have an answer to solve the climate change problem, we do have answers to these questions.

What do ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ mean?

First of all, let’s explain what some of the terms that often surround this topic mean. Despite how the term is often used, ‘climate change’ isn’t something that’s tangible in and of itself – it’s the term we use to refer to the on-going changes to the world’s weather patterns and rising temperatures over a sustained period of time. The increase in temperature is referred to, more generally, as ‘global warming’. So when we say ‘climate change’, we’re referring to the primary cause and effect of this change (i.e. warmer temperatures leading to extreme weather and the consequences); whereas ‘global warming’ only refers to the primary cause (i.e. the Earth’s increasing surface temperature).

Climate change is something that has been observed by scientists since the 1800s – correlating with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – but it wasn’t until the 1900s that it could be so obviously observed that changes to the climate were being influenced by human activity. Since then, we’ve seen carbon dioxide levels rise by about 40% across the 20th and 21st centuries – taking us to levels unseen at any time in the past 800,000 years. This ‘human activity’ is what we refer to as our ‘carbon footprint’, a metaphor referencing the level of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide that is released as a result of our activities (i.e. our ‘footprint’). When we talk about ‘our’ carbon footprint, we can be referring to our own personal impact on greenhouse gas emissions, the footprint of a community, industry or nation, or the human race’s collective participation in producing greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases and carbon emissions

The reason for these long-term changes is due to ‘greenhouse gases’. This term refers to any heat-absorbing gases within the Earth’s atmosphere that are causing an excess level of warmth. There are a plethora of gases that could be referred to as greenhouse gases (or GHGs), with some of the primary types being: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), water vapour, nitrous oxide (N20) and ozone. Not all of these gases are equal. Some can absorb a lot of heat but dissipate relatively quickly, whereas others don’t absorb as much heat but last for a long time. Greenhouse gases are both natural and human-made. Regarding the latter, we contribute GHG to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal stations to produce electricity and fuel used in vehicles), deforestation, rearing livestock and the manufacturing of cement and aerosols.

The ‘global warming potential’ (GWP) index – as set out in the Kyoto Protocol – details the differing effects of these gases in comparison to one another. In the GWP index, the primary gas used as a reference point is carbon dioxide. It , equals 1 (meaning 1kg of carbon dioxide) in this ratio; whereas a more potent gas, such as methane, has a value of 25. This means that 1kg of methane produces 25 times the warming effect of 1kg of carbon dioxide over a given period of time, usually 100 years. Therefore, because the effects of 1kg of methane are equal to 25kg of carbon dioxide, the 1kg of methane can be referred to as 25kg of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ (CO2e).

This conversion is especially useful because carbon dioxide is often used as the reference point for all greenhouse gases. The terms ‘carbon dioxide’, ‘carbon’ or ‘carbon emissions’ are generally used when talking about our greenhouse gas emissions, even though that does not include the impact of other gases. Converting them all to CO2e allows us to see the impact of all GHGs while still using a common unit. However, nowadays the term ‘greenhouse-gas emissions’ is becoming popularized over simply ‘carbon emissions’.

Consequences of climate change

While climate change can still be viewed by many as an event of the future, the reality is, climate change has been happening for a long time. It’s now becoming a pressing issue because world leaders and the general public are finally beginning to recognize the effects.

The current day consequences of climate change are multiple. Firstly, there’s the warming effect. The destruction of polar ice shields and melting ice are a result of global warming which, in turn, increases water levels. In addition, water expands as it gets warmer. Therefore, we are seeing sea levels rise as a result of melting ice and increasing water temperatures. This not only leads to more flooding, but increases the potential for the erosion of both coastal and low lying areas around the world.

Additionally, extreme weather is becoming more commonplace. We’re seeing more heavy rain and extreme weather events occurring – sometimes at times of the year when they haven’t happened traditionally. This can decrease the quality and availability of water in certain regions. In extreme heat waves, the chance of forest fires increases and people find it more difficult to cultivate their land for resources. More people are becoming sick or dying as either a direct or indirect result of these conditions. Additionally, many species of wildlife face extinction, as they are not able to adapt to climate change quickly enough.

Ultimately, the effects of climate change could displace many millions of people as regions of the world become uninhabitable. Some environmental activists warn of a ‘doomsday’ scenario of the Earth where food supplies are strained and life is no longer sustainable. While many scientists reassure us that this outcome is unlikely, this nightmare-ish prediction should serve to illustrate the graveness of the situation. These consequences can arise if the current level of greenhouse gas emissions is sustained, global warming continues unabated and climate change goes unchallenged. Thankfully, continual efforts over the years by environmental campaigners – and recent events such as the Extinction Rebellion and #FridaysForFuture campaigns – have helped to further speed up the processes that will likely mitigate the more extreme outcomes of climate change. However, much more needs to be done to reduce the devastating impact of global warming and climate change.

Impact of travel on climate change

One talking point in the discussion surrounding climate change is the degree to which consumer and commercial trends have affected the creation of greenhouse gases. Many people are now looking to the effects of their own behaviours, such as the items they buy, the appliances that they use and, in particular, their travel arrangements.

Whether for business or leisure, most of us travel – a lot. It could be part of our everyday commute, to get to a business meeting, for a short domestic break or a long-haul flight as part of a family holiday. Whatever the case, our travel arrangements play an indirect role in the creation of greenhouse gas emissions. Forms of travel such as cars, buses, trains, ships and planes are huge producers of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to the burning of fuel. While the effects of driving in a car with multiple passengers or travelling on public transport (such as a bus or train) can help to ease our carbon footprint during our commutes to work, this mitigation is out the window when we have to travel further afield or internationally.

Just take, for example, a flight from Los Angeles to New York. If you have a seat on such a flight, you’ll be adding months of human-generated emissions to the atmosphere from a single, 5-and-a-half hour journey. One analysis has even found that an individual on a return flight from Edinburgh to London will contribute more CO2 than the mean annual emissions of a person living in Somalia or Uganda. While this is a common short-haul journey for those working in the corporate world, people in places like Uganda are being made to pay for a debt they never accumulated in the first place. Homes, crops, businesses and human health are already being damaged in ‘the Pearl of Africa’ due to heavy rain and flooding in some regions of the country, and droughts in others. The cause? Climate change.

Tourism, the travel industry and greenhouse gas emissions

One 2018 study across 189 countries found that tourism accounted for approximately 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This figure not only includes the impact of flights, but also the impact of producing cheap, plastic souvenirs and even eating out. The countries causing the most harm in the study were, unsurprisingly, the U.S., China and Germany – countries known for both their size and wealth.

Despite factors other than the impact of transportation being included in the overall figure, the major contributor to GHG emissions was air travel. From 1990 to 2006, GHG emissions resulting from aviation increased by 87%. Things haven’t got any better over the past decade. In fact, researchers in the 2018 study found that these numbers are set to increase as the world gets richer and demand for luxurious travel arrangements grows. And with the global tourism industry growing by about 5% every year, this problem doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. The finger could be pointed at the aviation and travel industries, but it could also be argued that such flights are only happening as a result of consumer demand.

Other alternative forms of travel, such as cruise ships, don’t fare much better. One industry expert claimed that the most efficient cruise ships actually release up to 4 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than jets. In addition to damaging the ocean, cruise ships impact the quality of air out in the ocean. One study found that, in some instances, air quality was comparable to a heavily polluted city such as Santiago or Beijing. However, trade groups in the cruise ship industry are currently working hard to comply with both air and water quality standards set by the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization.

Hotels are also a problem. A UK charity recently stated that 200m miniature toiletry bottles (such as shampoo, conditioner and body gel) from UK hotels are dumped into a landfill annually. Thankfully, there is progress to be found. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the parent company of brands such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental, has pledged to remove these amenities from their 843,000 rooms in 5,600 hotels worldwide by 2021. Meanwhile, legislators in California aren’t leaving the decision up to businesses, as they are currently looking to ban miniatures altogether.

While aviation and plastics are often talked about, as these are things all travellers directly encounter, what is often overlooked is water equity. The demands of tourists to have fresh, clean water is in turn placing demands on the water supply of certain destinations, leading to a loss in water quality for locals in favour of tourists. Bali is one example of a tourism hotspot where there is a gulf in water equity between tourists and local people. Tourists on Bali are thought to consume about 65% of local water resources while households on the island face a reduced water quality. With approximately 80% of the island’s economy reliant on tourism, some have accused the local government of kowtowing to tourists. While hotel associations do appear to be taking action to encourage their members to implement solutions to this problem, Bali is but one of many tourism hotspots around the world continuing to face this problem.

Conflicts of interest

Huge barriers to mitigating and even reversing the impact of climate change are the commercial and political worlds. Inaction, refusal to accept the facts and ignorance – both of the purest and wilful variants – is common. The multitude of obstinate behaviour has proved frustrating for campaigners whose interest is in safeguarding the environment that we all live in.

However, conflicts of interest in both the political and commercial spheres have played a huge part in the creation of buffer stops and signal failures on the increasing popular ‘Climate Change’ line between the stations of ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Action’. Civil society groups and NGOs have been critical of the United Nations (U.N.) failure to adopt clear and defined regulations regarding Conflict of Interest (COI) in regards to climate change.

A COI is when an individual or institution is faced with two (or more) contradictory interests. This is not necessarily a suggestion of individual duplicity, instead it references the situation rather than the person. One recent example is the case of United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft. Craft is married to billionaire coal magnate Joseph Craft and there have been concerns that this relationship may affect Ambassador Craft’s ability to act on climate change due to this conflict of interest. More widely, environmental activists have pointed to the lack of U.N. guidelines as a huge barrier to overcoming conflicts of interest. Research shows that big energy corporations have sent larger delegations to U.N. climate change talks than that of entire nations.

Within the travel and tourism industries, the conflicts of interest are also apparent. Airlines, travel businesses and tourism workers are reliant on a steady stream of travellers using their services and visiting their countries. Essentially, short-term profit and economic boosts are being traded for long-term losses on environmental sustainability and, perhaps, even profitability. After all, if parts of the world become unbearable or uninhabitable as a result of climate change (for which the tourism industry contributes 8% of the total GHG emissions), the global travel and tourism industry will have no choice but to contract.

To travel or not to travel

The question of whether or not to travel is undoubtedly a decision that has to be taken at an individual level. There are benefits and drawbacks to such a decision. One benefit is the knowledge that you are no longer contributing to the high levels of GHG emissions produced as a result of travel and tourism. However, for such a decision to really have impact, this is a choice that has to be adapted collectively. Airlines will, after all, continue to run flights if there is demand – irrespective of your choice.

Then there are the drawbacks. As aforementioned, many people are reliant on tourism to provide a means to live for their families. This is true for airline pilots and other middle-class occupations within the travel industry, as well as for local people at tourist destinations, such as tour guides, indigenous communities and gift shop workers. Another drawback is the loss of a hobby and cultural experience. Travelling is a terrific way to get away from everyday life and brings with it cultural enrichment and even educational value.

So if you want to keep travelling, but are struggling to justify the harmful effects of the travel industry and tourism on the environment, what else can you do?

Mitigating and offsetting your carbon footprint

There are a number of ways to continue travelling while also either offsetting or mitigating the impact of your journey. One way is by calculating the amount of carbon emissions that will be released as a result of your travel. This will allow you to see your individual carbon footprint, ensuring that you can make a more informed decision before you go. Additionally, finding out the impact of your journey can allow you to offset the emissions.

Offsetting is when you pay an amount of money to a broker who will spend the money on efforts to negate the GHG emissions released into the atmosphere from your flight(s). For example, the money can be put towards the planting of trees, the construction of a wind farm or methane capturing efforts. However, it’s important to find a provider that performs on-going vetting of offsetting efforts to ensure that your money is being spent in the correct manner. Additionally, you could make a contribution to an environmental charity that helps to preserve the area or region that you are visiting.

There are also a number of smaller efforts you can make while on your journey. If possible, try to walk more or rent a bike instead of taking taxis and buses. Of course, make sure to keep your safety in mind when making such arrangements. Avoid littering, keep lights off if they don’t need to be on and make sure to re-use your towels. Another great tip is to make fewer trips, but make those trips last longer. This can reduce your air miles without necessarily reducing the amount of time that you are travelling.

There’s also often a temptation to see areas before they are ravished or destroyed by climate change – such as Antarctica – and this is often referred to as ‘last-chance tourism’. Some experts have offered criticism of these marketing tactics claiming they cause an even greater strain on environments that are already struggling. Thankfully, there are sustainable tourism companies out there who do care about the impact of tourism on fragile environments. As such, it’s always important to examine the environmental preservation efforts of any companies you choose to use.

Then there is, of course, more activism-related mitigation. You can write to local, national or international political representatives, sign petitions and spread the word on social media or amongst your friends and family circle. If you are an employee, talk to your employer about their commitment to reducing unnecessary travel when more environmentally friendly options are available; such as conference and video calls. If you are an employer, look to use these methods when they are available.

There’s no real right or wrong answer to these questions. However, if you have a passion for travel, you needn’t give it up. Rather, a smarter, reduced approach to travelling may be a better way to offset the effects of your carbon footprint.

Political & commercial conflicts of interest

Sustainability in travel and tourism is huge topic of concern for conscientious consumers and businesses. To make a dent in reducing humanity’s carbon footprint, we need the support of the members of the corporate and political world. So why are some dragging their heels?

Environmental mitigation is a hot topic in todays travel industry. Despite the individual and collective efforts of some travellers and businesses to lessen negative impacts of global tourism, we can’t do it alone. The political and corporate worlds too, play a significant role in the overall success of any efforts to create sustainability in travel and tourism. Without their support to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint, our endeavours won’t make a big enough dent to reduce the grim consequences that face our world.

Though corporations are gradually beginning to take on new levels of responsibility for their environmental impact, and politicians are starting to try to push through legislation to support sustainability and climate regeneration; it’s still not good enough. There are a number of reasons as to why many local, national and worldwide leaders, as well as corporate executives, are only casually looking over their shoulders at the problem rather than giving it their full attention. A lack of infrastructure, alongside policies and philosophies that value profit above all else, effects on local economies and conflicts of interest all act as key barriers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the globe.

This resistance ranges from politicians blocking key bills, drafts and changes to legislation that would force corporations and businesses to comply and commit to positive environmental changes, to interference from lobby groups and trade bodies that represent the interests of corporations – such as the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). There are also concerns that such changes may prove too financially challenging to some developing nations or too harmful to areas that rely on travel and tourism for economic and local stability. The de-stabilising nature of environmental governance and political adjustment to regulations may cause repercussions for those employed within the tourism sector.

Despite these legitimate difficulties, we have to look beyond the ‘black and white’ of why climate change problems cannot be approached equally by all governments; many countries – the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand – and large businesses, for example, do not have justifiable excuses for their continued indifference to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Something has to change – and it shouldn’t be the climate.

A call to action

Over the years, many have tried to generate interest in environmental impact – often with limited success. Their goodwill and poignant messaging was often suppressed by a cacophony of derision and scepticism from high profile politicians, popular public figures and influential journalists, who not only wanted to downplay climate change, but also to downright deny it (something seen to this day).

Such prominent figures have included the now US President Donald J. Trump, his Vice President Mike Pence, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s former adviser Viscount Christopher Monckton, ex-Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, former Fox News columnist Steve Milloy, UK journalists Christopher Booker and James Delingpole, and many more.

The need for journalists and newsrooms to ‘objectively’ report the arguments on climate change gave a platform to such scepticism, allowing it to flourish and maintain relevance amongst the wider public. But, in recent years, as ‘citizen journalism’ grew and social media took flight, the ability for climate change activists to create open dialogue and communicate with people all around the world, on their own terms, has been a game changer. Climate conversation has progressively become a media mainstay, with a variety of actors campaigning for climate justice.

The changing face of climate activism

Fast forward to today and climate change activism is being driven by a global gathering of young people, whose passion and determination has been shaped by environmental education offered by schools, social media and the wider internet in their formative years.

However, these new climate change activists aren’t just interested in the environmental impact, nor do they adopt the historical, and somewhat stereotypical, middle-class, predominantly white ‘tree-hugging’ image – they are also interested in the social justice aspects of tackling climate change and sustainability. While older movements succeeded in preventing single-issue, individual projects from going through, these newer movements are focused less on incremental changes, and more on dramatic, immediate changes. These range from creating a citizen’s climate assembly to drastically cutting back meat and dairy consumption.

Climate activism has seen a whole new wave of movements and figures appear throughout the world – and it cuts across gender, race, class, disability, ethnicity and every other identity or label. The Extinction Rebellion movement in the UK launched with an open letter from 100 academics asking for support to tackle the climate breakdown. These academics are supported by a massive amount of young people (known within the movement as ‘XR Youth’). In fact, it has been estimated that nearly 1.4 million school children have taken part in climate change strikes at schools across the globe.

Perhaps the most prominent of these school children has been Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish activist who started skipping school every Friday to protest the climate crisis. Her efforts rubbed off on her fellow pupils and, soon after, she and her fellow young people staged the ‘School Strike for Climate’ outside of the Swedish Parliament in August 2018. Thunberg has become, quite literally, the ‘poster child’ for young protestors.

However, there are many more environmental groups, movements and individuals – experienced and new – that continue to bolster the ranks. The likes of the Sunrise Movement and Isha Clarke in America represent the new, while the likes of Greenpeace, The Guardian’s George Monbiot and filmmaker David Attenborough have many years of experience in trying to highlight the global climate plight.

A change of tactics

While they are pushing for more immediate action, it could be argued that their messages are less divisive too. Many of us grew up with images of protestors shackling themselves to trees in rainforests, activists climbing the fences of nuclear facilities or standing outside shops shaming people for their purchases. While this radical action has, at times, proven effective (but not as justifiable in court rooms), it has also caused ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentalities to, rightly or wrongly, arise. In contrast, the Extinction Rebellion movement has built itself on core principles such as ‘we avoid blaming and shaming’ in an attempt to highlight that while we can blame and shame the individuals who contribute to climate change and who deny its effect, including the aforementioned sceptics, we are all contributors and no one person is to blame. The problem of climate change is systematic.

It’s these wider systems that have been called into question and targeted – including the systems relating to how we travel. The question of airline flights, particularly transatlantic and long haul flights have been high on the agenda of many concerned activists for a number of years, but only now has the wider public started to fully appreciate the environmental impact of travelling. In 2013, the average ‘carbon footprint’ in Britain, for example, was thought to be about 7.1t of CO2 per person. Yet a return flight from New York to London emits approximately 1.2t of CO2 per passenger. No matter how we mitigate our carbon footprints, daily and annually, regular transatlantic and long haul fliers are likely to make up for our lack of emissions.

The rise of ‘flight shaming’

Thunberg has been one of the recent figures that have drawn attention to this problem. Instead of taking a flight to New York for the recent UN Climate Summit, she travelled there via a low-carbon sailing yacht. Many scientists and academics have also written on such matters, including research highlighting how one single long haul flight can be the carbon footprint equivalent of driving a car for a year.

The flights of celebrities – particularly of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – have also attracted widespread attention and universal condemnation. This was evident recently with Google’s climate change retreat at a luxury resort in Sicily. Exclusively attended by VIPs such as the aforementioned royals, former US President Barack Obama, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Katy Perry, the island welcomed over 100 private jets and numerous super-yachts as part of the event. The hypocrisy was not lost on the public, nor apparently on Harry and Meghan. The two seem to be switching to commercial flying as a less impactful alternative after the backlash.

This increasing discourse around flights has led to a spree of what has been labelled as ‘flight shaming’. It defines the feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment that environmental impact can cause in those who are considering taking a flight. For many travellers, particularly those who believe in ethical travel and sustainability, it has played a key role in their decisions to choose how and where they travel.

Environmental regulations and the travel industry

While there are a number of areas where the wider travel and tourism industries can increase the effects of climate change, none are more impactful than the aviation industry. By 2020, the greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are projected to be about 70% higher than they were 15 years prior to this point. If allowed to continue unabated, it’s thought that this could be 300% to 700% higher than the 2005 figure by 2050. The problem for the travel industry, however, is that any regulations relating to aviation can have a knock-on effect on the national and local economies in many countries and regions.

Within the EU, aviation emissions from all airlines operating in Europe (including non-European airlines) are included in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). This requires airlines to monitor and report their emissions that are then surrendered or traded with allowances. First introduced in 2008, these allowances are distributed to each airline and cover a certain amount of allowable flight emissions per year.

However, this legislation was altered to fit in with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 2016 market-based resolution to deal with CO2 emissions from aviation in 2021 onwards. This implementation is in the form of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to stabilise C02 emissions. From 2020, airlines will be required to offset any increased emissions from after 2020 levels – hopefully stopping the march towards the aforementioned projections of a 700% increase by 2050. However, it should be noted that participation in this scheme is voluntary and some states, where there is little aviation infrastructure or activity, will be exempt from the scheme. EU countries, though, will be a part of the scheme from its start. Despite this, EU governments and the ICAO (a UN agency) have been criticised for the secrecy surrounding how exactly they intend to tackle aviation emissions.

Offsetting refers to the process of ‘carbon offsetting’. This is when individuals, businesses or governments invest in schemes that will negate the effects of harmful carbon emissions as a result of an individual, business or country’s emission releasing activities (e.g. such as flying or driving a car). Despite its benefits, it is not viewed by experts as a proper solution to the aviation problem, but rather as an ‘intermediate solution’. In essence, it’s a bandage over a wound that prevents further infection, but which lacks the medical potency to remove the infection from the system. The tendency to rely on carbon offsetting as a cure (rather than a preventative) to the aviation and travel industry’s climate change problem has been, in part, blamed on a treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol.

Adopted in 1997 and effective as of 2005, this international treaty generated a lot of goodwill and interest at the time. However, intervening years have exposed its shortcomings – with arguments between the various parties and their targets – the United States failure to ratify the treaty and Canada’s withdrawal from the Protocol being major blows in its legitimacy. The key failure, however, has been the ’emission trading’ aspect of the Protocol which saw countries be able to gain ‘carbon credits’ by investing in projects to reduce emissions within developing nations. Essentially, it was projected as a form of carbon offsetting for wealthier countries. However, this mechanism has become voluntary and, since the Kyoto Protocol was introduced, the use of fossil fuels has actually increased. This is set to change when the countries which signed the Paris Agreement in 2005 are expected to revisit their pledges in 2020. The United States will not be involved – however, nearly half of all US states (contributing to roughly 25% of all US emissions) have banded together to form a coalition that aims to uphold the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

It’s important to remember that aviation is only one part of tourism’s problem. According to the United Nations, tourism is thought to contribute about 8% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. About 75% of these emissions can be traced to air, car and rail travel. A further 20% occurs as a result of accommodation – heating and air conditioning, swimming pools and the maintenance of bars and restaurants. Smaller activities, such as the manufacture of plastic souvenirs and eating out, will account for the rest of the emissions. It’s thought that about 15% of these emissions are not bound to any emission elimination or reduction targets.

The resistance to action

According to one survey, 68% of people across 26 major countries believe climate change to be a major threat, with a further 20% believing it to be a minor threat. Despite this clear majority – a majority that would be enough to win a democratic election or referendum with ease – many countries and businesses have failed to halt the trend of increasing emissions. While it is easy to view the resistance as purely relating to an unwillingness for people in power to part with profit or economic stability, there are also an array of other reasons that affect how easy it is to enact the necessary changes all across the globe. This is particularly true of travel and tourism.

The disparate experiences of developed and developing nations

Historically, climate change activism has been somewhat of a middle-class issue, often untaken within industrialised and developed countries that have contributed the most to greenhouse gas emissions. Much of the current language however, is centred on how we all contribute and how everyone in the world has to fix this problem together. This black and white thinking is ultimately unhelpful, as it fails to negotiate the years and years of unabated emissions, produced by developed countries. It also fails to negotiate the relative economic instabilities that many developing countries face when adapting to these often expensive projects. In fact, emissions in today’s developed nations have been described as ‘lifestyle’ orientated; in developing countries, these emissions have been described as ‘survival’.

For many developing countries, survival is also dependent on robust travel and tourism industries. Every year, millions of people flock to developing countries to holiday. This tourism injects the economies of these nations – many of which are agrarian-based in nature and, thus, exposed to the effects of climate change – with a much-needed boost of foreign money. This money can then fund improvements that benefit its local residents; better transportation links for example and increased access to modern appliances and products.

With that said, tourism isn’t a one-stop solution to the development of fragile nations, nor does it help solve the emissions problem. Often a chain of dependency can arise that can be both beneficial and a burden. Natives to the island of Bali in Indonesia, a major tourism hotspot, absolutely rely on its tourism industry to provide education and economic stability; yet it has also caused problems (such as a reduced supply of quality waters for locals versus tourists). It can also cause many local people to gravitate towards jobs that do not require as much education – such as waiters, bar/restaurant staff and taxi drivers – to cater to the foreign influx. This can, therefore, stymie the development and popularity of further education opportunities. We also see exploitation of local people from foreign travellers too. The infamous cases of ‘poverty tourism’ can involve people travelling from developed nations to observe or document residents in underdeveloped areas of developing nations – often in an exploitative manner.

Nevertheless, travel and tourism remains a major contributor to the economies of many developing nations. As such, tour operators across the African continent are already starting to feel the impact of recent trends of flight avoidance and flight shaming. There are concerns that this won’t just jeopardise local economies and potentially increase poverty but will also affect local conservation efforts too. Even in developed nations, the tourism industry is of great importance too. For example, it’s thought that approximately 10% of Americans are employed within the travel and tourism industry and over $32 billion of the annual national economy is raised in revenues from beach tourists. With coastlines threatened as a result of rising sea levels brought about by climate change, even a developed nation like the United States will feel the effect of a hampered tourism industry, not just by the effects of climate change, but by the eventual need to start taking the issue seriously beyond state level. The cost of lost tourism could range from severely damaging to catastrophic across all nations and, for this reason, the discussion surrounding climate change and tourism has proved to be a more divisive issue than it would first appear.

Conflicts of interest

Another huge barrier to tackling climate change – both in and out of the tourism industry – is conflict of interest. As capitalism (or deviations thereof) is the world’s primary economic and political system, profit is often the primary ambition of businesses across trade and industry. With many politicians funded in their political campaigns by lobby groups that represent the interests of big businesses and corporations, conflicts of interest can often arise when profit clashes with progress.

Fossil fuels continue to play a huge role in not only powering the world, but in producing massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that go back as far as 250 years. While developing nations across Asia have increased their fossil fuel usage – such as China and India – other more developed nations have seen their energy-related emissions decline. One major exception across developed nations, however, is the United States. Burning of fossil fuels for energy in the US accounts for approximately 76% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and a staggering 93% of the country’s CO2 emissions. It is the nation that contributes the most CO2 emissions in the world today, accounting for approximately 26%. Despite falling from a historic high of 40% in 1950, the levels increased in 2018. By comparison, China and India – two countries where over a billion people live – accounted for 12% and 3% of CO2 emissions respectively during the same period.

The United States is also home to many powerful lobbies that represent fossil fuel interests. From 2000 to 2016, the fossil fuel, utilities and transportation industries (including airlines) spent over $2 billion lobbying against climate change legislation. By comparison, environmental organisations and renewable energy groups spent $48 million and $79 million respectively. In reality, the distance between these figures may even be higher due to the nature of disclosure surrounding lobbying activities in the US. Despite the serious need to address climate change immediately rather than later, many fossil fuel companies still hold a seat at climate negotiations across the world. However, this historic abuse of power is starting to be unfurled. In 2017, the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) heard criticisms from developing countries and enacted changes to stop fossil fuel lobbyists – with clear conflicts of interest – from partaking in any climate talks.

The UN’s agency for dealing with aviation safety and environmental standards, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), is based in Montreal, Canada. However, there is currently no way for the public to observe any delegations and talks are held behind closed doors with just one environmental group allowed to observe – having signed a non-disclosure agreement that stops them from revealing talks between representatives of countries and the aviation industry. The agency has been criticised for its secrecy and, recently, non-governmental organisations have criticised UK and EU governments for failing to de-cloak the unprecedented secrecy surrounding emission regulation, leading to further concerns of conflicting interests at play.

Yet conflict of interest within the travel industry can also happen on a more everyday, individualised basis too. Frequent flyer miles can be earned from making unnecessary business trips or even by using a credit card sponsored by an airline. In fact, most frequent flyer miles are earned on the ground – not in the air. This has led to many simply making trips they wouldn’t otherwise have done so for the sake of ‘free travel’. While it may seem easy to ‘blame and shame’ individuals for taking these unnecessary trips, criticism should instead be aimed at the airlines for encouraging these flights.

The way forward

For travellers, there’s a lot to digest here. Despite the clear impact that travel and tourism has on the world’s greenhouse gas emission levels, it still pales in comparison to the effects of fossil fuel production, livestock rearing and usage of road vehicles. In fact, 72% of the EU’s transport emissions result from road transportation. While public transport, such as trains and buses, can severely offset more individualised trips, the costs associated with travelling via such means – both domestically and, if possible, internationally – are far higher to everyday people. So, is there a way to travel more responsibly?

The short answer is yes. As aforementioned, travel is not necessarily a bad thing on its own. While we should continue to reduce our own carbon footprints – while also lobbying governments, big businesses and airlines to do the same – we have to recognise how a lot of nations and people rely on tourism to survive on a day-to-day basis. Withdrawing from travel plans doesn’t just hurt the airlines and big businesses, it also has the potential to affect the ability for many people to make a living and even survive.

While many climate activists are aware of the differences between the historic and continuing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from developed regions and countries, as opposed to that of developing nations, airlines pose an interesting quandary.

While they rely on fossil fuels to operate their planes, they also allow tourists and foreign money into some of the world’s most financially deprived regions. There’s no easy answer if our current way of life is to continue. One solution is to encourage investment in ways that make air travel more sustainable and cleaner. Despite the secrecy, there are signs that the aviation industry hears these calls. Boeing, the plane designer and manufacturer, is not only investing heavily in creating technologies that are fuel efficient, but technologies that may even be able to run on biofuels. Airbnb accommodation may negate the need for massive hotel resorts, also reducing the environmental impact of holiday accommodation.

While Greta Thunberg’s goals, and the goals of the millions around the world who feel the same way as her, are admirable and just, the sustainability of spending time to travel is also incompatible under a capitalist system. The vast majority of us don’t have the privilege, nor the money, to spend two weeks sailing across the ocean to attend a meeting – thanks to a crew who will, very fairly, expect remuneration for our safe passage. Our bosses simply won’t accept the excuse that we’re three days late back to work because a delay on the Trans-Mongolian Railway caused us to miss all of our connecting trains as we returned from a two-day trip to Beijing. So how do we practically align our designs on travel with our more idealistic environmental concerns?

The future of tourism is regenerative

By now, many conscious travellers will have switched, or want to switch, over to a sustainable mindset when planning their trips. Avoiding corporate hospitality and globalised chain restaurants, travellers tend to veer off-the-beaten path to discover and support local cultures and cuisines. This more responsible approach to tourism has been labelled ‘sustainable tourism’. Sustainability means to, essentially, sustain the lands and communities that we visit in order to minimise our impact on their resources and preserve these resources for the future. It keeps these communities afloat. Regeneration, however, is a far more progressive approach to tourism.

As the word suggests, ‘regeneration’ is not just about sustaining the status quo, it’s showing a long-term commitment towards the development of the places you visit; such as working with or contributing to local non-profits and NGOs who are investing in the area. It’s potentially stepping outside your comfort zone to support the local economy by shopping for locally-made, environmentally-friendly crafts as souvenirs or eating at local restaurants. It can involve ditching plastics and using eco-friendly products, such as favouring re-useable steel water bottles over single-use plastic water bottles. Minimise activities that cause pollution and focus on the ones that don’t, such as hiking or biking. Investigative opportunities to help with local efforts like ocean clean-ups and tree planting. And, lastly, choose tour operators and providers who are responsible and who employ local people to act as guides.

For those who are travelling by flight, consider covering your emissions by investing in carbon offsetting. Your airline may offer this as a choice when booking, but you can also pay companies online instead. This money will then be invested in clean energy or low-carbon energy initiatives, like solar panel installation or planting of trees. Again, this isn’t the solution, but it’s important to do what you can to reduce the effects of taking a flight. By continuing to monitor the actions of the aviation and travel industry, taking part in protests, spreading awareness of responsible tourism and ensuring that you are minimising or even nullifying your own carbon footprint, you can travel safe in the knowledge that you are making a difference.

Broader awareness and education

Although awareness of climate change is increasing, the travel industry is struggling to keep up. Many individuals, businesses and tour operators are ill-equipped to make travelling sustainably a reality. It is clear that a greater level of education is required to properly implement more sustainable travel practices. But how do we know where to turn?

As public awareness and information surrounding the scale of climate change continues to increase, so too does the awareness of sustainable travel and responsible tourism. Recent stats have shown that a rather sizeable chunk of travellers (87%) have said that they want to travel sustainably. This is a rather substantial figure. However, only about 39% manage to often or always do so, while 48% found that they rarely or never managed to travel sustainably.

The same survey by – a popular travel fare aggregator – found that it wasn’t just cost that proved to be an extra barrier for travellers who wanted to travel sustainably (42%). It was also the extra time it may take (22%), the limitations that sustainable travel places on potential destinations (22%) and even concerns about sustainable travel not offering comfort (20%). Even though the majority of travellers want to make sustainable journeys, many still feel ill-equipped to deal with planning and making such trips.

Despite these reservations and drawbacks, there are still a lot of other reasons people are struggling to translate their ideals into reality. 40% of respondents claimed that they wanted booking sites to offer sustainable search filter options to help them better identify opportunities, while 32% called for international standards to vet eco-friendly accommodation and packages. This demonstrates that awareness and education are not only matters of concern to the public; they are matters of concern for many tour operators and businesses within the travel industry too.

The survey, it should be noted, was limited in scope. While covering over 12,000 respondents, only 12 markets were queried (including the UK, India, US, China, Brazil and Germany) and the survey was purely online based. There are still many people in the world who have little to no access to the internet, meaning that respondents were more likely to be aware of the discourse surrounding sustainable travel.

Irrespective of a person’s awareness of travelling responsibly, it’s clear that there are many barriers that prevent the public from being able to be fully aware, educated and prepared for sustainable travel. As such, more work is required to broaden this awareness.

What is responsible tourism?

In order to determine what we need to do to advance responsible tourism, we first need to define what this means. ‘Responsible tourism’ refers to, in essence, the practice of travelling to locations in the most environmentally-friendly manner as possible, being a culturally sensitive traveller and supporting the local economy of destinations. One aspect of responsible tourism is ‘sustainable travel’ which is an approach by which tourists, travellers and tour operators find ways to maintain and offset the potential negative consequences that travelling can have on both culture and nature.

One of the larger myths surrounding responsible tourism is that it is about assuaging guilt. While research does suggest that guilt can be a factor in a person’s decision to be a more sustainable traveller, the reality is that educating people about responsible tourism allows them to understand the broader impact of their travel. By understanding this information and being educated on the importance of responsible tourism and sustainable travel, people can make informed choices about how they wish to experience what the world has to offer.

Understanding where responsibility begins and ends

While more travellers than ever are aware of the terms ‘responsible tourism’ and ‘sustainable travel’, there is still a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around what these terms actually mean. As highlighted above, many people are still unsure about how to book sustainable travel and many believe that it will not only lead to spending more money, but also to a less comfortable or desirable travel experience.

This is why it is so important for individuals to educate themselves about responsible travel, but further, why businesses – especially those in the travel and tourism industries – need to also be aware of how they can clearly label the sustainability of their services to customers. This communication problem between travellers and businesses can be solved by industry leaders in the ‘mass tourism’ industry. Holiday resorts, budget airlines and package brokers are all involved in trying to provide deal packages to popular tourist hotspots to as many consumers as possible. While some operators do try to offer sustainable packages, many are the antithesis of what responsible tourism stands for. This needs to change, as businesses should be a touch point for tourists to learn about responsible tourism.

Avoidance of greenwashing

Another issue that can arise from a misunderstanding of what responsible tourism really means is ‘greenwashing’. This is a practice whereby organisations seem to adopt policies that appear sustainable on the surface, often in an attempt to ‘look good’ to conscious consumers, while proving to be little more than superficial. A lack of regulations and recognisable industry standards surrounding the usage of sustainable terminology exists, even in countries with a long history of green terminology. This allows a number of companies take advantage of consumers’ good intentions by falsely promoting their green efforts.

While some companies may be genuine in their progress towards sustainability, the true effects of their efforts may be hidden underneath the slick marketing. One way for consumers to sniff out companies with questionable policies is to search for a written policy or examples of their green efforts – if they hire local people across most or all positions, if they work with local charities or NGOs to encourage local development, how their water and/or sewage systems operate and what measurable targets they have (or have previously hit) to reduce their carbon footprint.

The problem with carbon offsetting

While the practice has been around for a number of years, recent global interest in climate change has educated many people about carbon offsetting. This is when companies and travellers offset the negative impact of using transport that contributes major carbon emissions by investing in low-carbon or clean energy programmes. Today, many airlines offer this as an optional payment that can be made by the customer whilst purchasing their ticket but, traditionally, carbon offsetting is something that can be bought from third-party providers.

While carbon offsetting should be an essential investment for anyone who is a traveller, it isn’t without its problems. In fact, it can often be falsely seen as a direct ‘like for like’ replacement that completely negates any carbon emissions. Offsetting, however, is just a temporary solution to a wider problem. The systematic reliance on carbon offsetting creates the ill-informed belief that we can continue to spew carbon and greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere with reckless abandon. In some ways, it can be compared to buying plastic bottles and relying on the recycling process to cover the environmental cost. Some critics have even called it a form of greenwashing. While there are a number of well-meaning organisations running such schemes who are able to certify that their offsetting efforts are working, others have been investigated and exposed for not fulfilling the levels of offset that they promise consumers and businesses.

The key here is for consumers and businesses to understand that offsetting is not a solution to global warming and climate change, but a temporary reprieve. In order to ensure their offsetting is effective, tourists should research the companies they use and scrutinise their current projects.

The rise of climate change tourism

Another worrying trend that needs to be considered is the increasing amount of ‘climate change tourism’. This is where people visit areas that have severely suffered from climate change, often under the marketing guise of it being ‘the last time you may ever see’ this landscape or fauna. It is perhaps one of the most egregious examples of what marketers call ‘FOMO’ – Fear of Missing Out.

While some may proudly exclaim in the near (hopefully alternative) future that they were one of the last people on earth to see the polar bears, many of us baulk at the thought that we contributed to the demise of an area or a species. Travelling to areas already damaged by climate change only makes things worse. By educating people on the problematic nature of such opportunism, we can all help to protect some of the planet’s most endangered habitats (and their inhabitants) from further damage.

The true impact of travel

As well as these issues, consumers and businesses need to be fully aware of the impact that even one person can have on the environment if they are travelling on a regular basis. A transatlantic return flight between London and New York is though to generate about 1.2t of CO2 per passenger.

There also needs to be education beyond the more easily observable impacts that travel has on the climate. This not only includes flights, but use of taxis, purchase of mass manufactured souvenirs and the water and sewage systems present at accommodations. By understanding the true impact of travel, people can begin to make more informed decisions and appreciate the sustainable and renewable measures that certain businesses in the travel and tourism industry put into their packages. If tourists genuinely understand the efforts tourism operators are making, maybe potentially spending some extra money on their trip won’t sound as bad.

Opportunities for education and awareness about the travel industry

With travellers and businesses becoming more well-informed on the issues at the heart of climate change, and better able to see and feel its effects, the desire to safeguard the environment becomes stronger. While there is potential for the travel industry to suffer as a result of these changes, there are also opportunities to provide tourists with meaningful packages where local communities are intrinsically involved with the process and are fairly remunerated for their labour either through direct wages or a combination of wages and investment in local infrastructure. With many governments around the world having designated officers and ministers who deal solely with travel and tourism, which is often a massive economic contributor to the majority of countries, the support for such endeavours is there and may even involve some level of government subsidisation.

Individuals and businesses that travel frequently may want to consider using homestays or farmstays. Such opportunities not only provide a chance to reduce the emissions that arise from more standard accommodation but offer opportunities for cultural enrichment and exchange – often at the fraction of a price of a hotel. Volunteer programmes can also offer a terrific opportunity for people to visit a country or region while also giving their labour to help support the local people and infrastructure of their desired destination.

Social media continues to play a vital role in getting these messages to travellers, especially platforms that cut across societies and age brackets. As well as the younger generation of ‘influencers’, traditional media and journalists should be supported to ensure the messages about responsible tourism and sustainable travel are heard far and wide.

Acceptance, responsibility and ownership

Interest in climate change adaptation and mitigation has been on a steep incline. Yet there are still those who deny its very existence. But why the lack of acceptance?

Interest in climate change adaptation and mitigation has been on a steep incline since around 2007. The climate protests happening around the world and visual evidence of damage caused by natural disasters is rampant, causing many to take up arms and claim responsibility as a consumer. Yet there are still those who are dragging their heels. Corporate companies, such as those who profit from continued degradation of natural resources continue to protest against the urgency of the climate crisis. The ambivalent attitudes towards climate change and lack of acceptance of its many environmental and social impacts is a key barrier to effective climate change action. Yet there is still hope. Local and individual climate action is picking up speed. One may only turn on the news and be greeted with images of Greta Thunberg to understand the impact that one person may have.

Working to combat climate change starts with the individual. For many, the first step towards progress begins with recognising and accepting the existence and impacts of climate change on our planet. As an individual, it is important to evaluate the impacts of climate change, as ignoring the critical urgency of the problem will lead to further escalations of environmental, social and economic disruptions down the line. But there must also be a level of individual responsibility. As stated by Time Magazine in 1993, “We need to do something about the environmental damage in our heads”. We not only need to recognise our impact on our planet, but, more importantly, how our daily behaviour, attitudes and travel plans can help improve our environment.

The evidence of escalating destruction through climate disaster is everywhere, yet a lot of us still seem to be ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist. A plausible reason for this is that many evolutionary theorists believe that we as people are fundamentally egocentric, looking out, first and foremost, for our own needs. According to author and biologist Jeremy Griffith, this “out-of-control egocentric, selfish, competitive and aggressive behaviour” that leads to a lack of cooperation within society, is to blame not just for the environmental problems we are facing but for all of the world’s problems. Environmental historians such as William Cronon blame the social constructions of nature, stating that we live in a society of changing human attitudes and cultural narratives surrounding the natural environment. We depend on eco-systems to sustain human life, yet we reduce them to mass monocultural farms and we travel to ‘get back to nature’. We have lost our place in the natural world, as we now dominate it. How are we meant to revalue and resituate ourselves within nature, when we have consumed it for so long?

The first thing to do to is to take responsibility and claim ownership. We live in a “throw away” economy with a rampant consumer society resulting in excess goods and waste. We buy things of poor-quality, that we don’t really need, that ends up getting thrown away. A desire for the trendiest fashion, convenient foods pre-packaged in plastics or cheap flights to overpopulated destinations results in unnecessary harm to the environment. Beyond our consumption habits, our daily lifestyle can be improved as well.

Our lifestyle choices may seem minor in the moment; for instance, taking a long shower, leaving the lights on in vacant rooms or driving short distances. But they have severe impacts on our environment – transport and electricity are leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Excess food consumption and overuse of agricultural land is a main factor in severe water waste and the fashion industry continues to utilise environmentally unsound supply chains. The tourism industry accounts for approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

To make a difference, we need to change our lifestyle by compromising and making personal sacrifices. Small individual action needs to lead to educating others. This collaboration can help accelerate positive change.

Taking ownership

It can be difficult to take ownership of our environmental impact, especially if we are not surrounded by the air pollution of a city or the extreme weather of a tropical climate. It is even harder to recognisze or think about our carbon footprint whilst enjoying ourselves on vacation. However, understanding that the habits we adopt and goods we buy do impact our greater environment is the first step in taking ownership of our role in the onset of climate changedeteriorating environment. It is often easier to blame those in power, whether that is the government or large corporations, for not proactively working to save our environment. But it is our demand for consumption and an easy lifestyle that drives their actions.

Changing one’s lifestyle & personal sacrifice

Education is one of the most important steps towards change. We need to understand the current crisis and comprehend what the future will look like if we continue in the same way. Then, more sustainable lifestyle changes should be adopted. Changing your habits may sound daunting, but there are small steps you can take that are accessible and can be easily embedded in your daily routine.

Changes you can make towards a more sustainable lifestyle:

Water – We can all make more of an effort to reduce the amount of water we use. for our showers and in the kitchen.

Aside from the obvious habits of avoiding flushing the toilet too often or turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth, there are many ways to be water savvy on the day to day. In your home, you can install a water-saving showerhead to reduce the flow and opt to run a full dishwasher instead of hand washing. Although it may seem counterproductive to use a dishwasher, one study showed that using an extravagant amount of hot water when hand-washing dishes, as most of us do, emits 8000g of CO2 compared to 990g for a dishwasher.

You can continue these good habits when travelling by informing your hotel that you don’t need your towels washed every day. And although we tend to indulge in long, spa-like showers while on vacation, try cutting back on shower times if you have already spent a lot of time in the sauna or pool. Purchasing a reusable water bottle is also advisable. Aside from benefits of plastic reduction, it takes around 3 times more water to produce a plastic water bottle than they actually hold. Travelling in this way may be difficult as many destinations may not have access to clean drinking water, so consider bringing water purifier bottle or water purification tablets. Bringing a bottle of hand sanitiser is also a handy way to save water whilst travelling.


We can all reduce the amount of food we waste by tackling our tendencyies to always crave more. On an all-inclusive holiday Portion control is important,it is easy to get swept away in the abundance of delicious food miraculously appearing at every mealtime. Portion control is important, not only to reduce food waste, but because food production is one of the leading causes of air and water pollution. and fill your plate with a little more than you can eat. The way food is produced, preserved and manipulated, then moved around the world is a matter high on the list for climate change action. Food production contributes to 21% to 37% of global greenhouse gases, as well as a mainspring in deforestation, loss of biodiversity and decline in water tables. Meat and dairy products are the main culprits, taking up three quarters of the world’s available agricultural land. Not only is this environmentally damaging, it has severe social impacts too. Rural communities are often victim to agricultural expansion and agrochemicals, suffering from limited livelihoods and opportunities to utilise local lands. A key example of this is the mass production of soy in Paraguay, where local farmers are no longer able to farm their lands.

It is therefore important to reduce our intake and consider alternative options. It is the constant demand for food that keeps these systems in place, especially the tourist trade. The mass import of food to tourism destinations, with its various stages of transportation, packaging and refrigeration are increasing global emissions. Therefore, consider eating more locally while on holiday and shopping at local markets.

We can change our diets less dairy and red meats, as these industries are the biggest culprits.


Avoid using single-use plastics and buying pre-packaged foods to considerably lower your contribution to ocean pollution. When visiting cafes and delis, bring your own reusable cutlery and containers as an alternative to plastic packaging.
Your reusable water bottle will also come in handy on a trip if you are visiting a destination with clean tap water, as you will be both helping the environment and saving money on plastic water bottles. Plastic bottles don’t just take around 450 years to decompose, they also require 1.6 million barrels of oil a year to produce.

While on vacation, pack your own toiletries instead of using the wasteful hotel bottles. If possible, avoid using products that contain micro-beads, a form of microplastic found in common cosmetic and personal care products. These microplastics are so small that they flow into sewage systems and then into our oceans. Marine life may eat or absorb these microplastics, meaning that humans most likely ingest them via seafood. Tip – check the label for ingredients such as polyethylene and polypropylene to avoid plastic-based toiletries.

To really tackle plastic use, avoid buying clothes made from 100% polyester, polyester blends or synthetic materials. These are essentially made of plastic and packed with plastic microfibres, which much like microplastics, are released into the oceans when washed. Consider buying second hand and vintage clothes or sourcing garments made of natural materials such as wool, hemp or undyed organic cotton. Avoid buying cheap clothing souvenirs whilst on holiday as these are most likely made of harmful plastics blends.

Your reusable water bottle will also come in handy on a trip if you are visiting a destination with clean tap water, as you will be both helping the environment and saving money on plastic water bottles.450 years to decompose, barrels of oil a year to produce.


Instead of driving short distances, walk, cycle or use public transport. In addition, think carefully about the holiday you’re looking to book. Choosing to travel sustainably can help reduce your carbon footprint, especially if you travel often. Choosing an airline that makes efforts towards sustainability is your best choice. Some airlines participate in carbon offsetting, which is when airlines pay to compensate for their CO2 emissions. However, this is not the most effective method. Airlines such as EasyJet are aiming to fill every seat on their modern, efficient aircrafts. This means that their emissions per passenger will be less than half of some of their rivals. Even better, EasyJet offers some of the cheapest ticket prices – so you can help the environment while still travelling on a budget. If you struggle to book eco-friendly travel on your own, there are also destination management organisations that offer travel packages consisting of sustainable choices for accommodation and activities.

Consumer goods

Pollution concerns apply to our shopping habits as well. Indulging in a bit of retail whilst abroad is one of the most fun parts of being holiday. However, many souvenirs are mass manufactured and imported from far away, contributing to global greenhouse emissions. When on holiday, think about what souvenirs you really need to buy and try to opt for locally produced items made from sustainable materials, rather than factory-made plastic goods.

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world as textile factories often dispose of toxic wastewaters containing lead and mercury directly into rivers Fortunately, the fast fashion industry seems to be slowing down. The increase in second-hand and ethical clothing shopping means the consumer is saving money as well as being more sustainable. Purchase some locally produced and naturally dyed garments whilst on vacation and support local craftspeople.

Educating Others

Once we are equipped with the knowledge, we need to inform others about climate change and spread the message through word of mouth or social media. Utilising platforms that enable access to mass audiences is essential to inform others about their environmental impact. Social media mobiliszes environmental activists, such as the young Greta Thunberg. Thunberg’s social media presence has inspired many other young climate activists around the world and brought more than 1.6 million of them together through her Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement. Her story and ability to bring people together proves that sometimes, people are acting out of ignorance – not because they don’t want to make a difference.

At home, you can educate your friends and family even easier than on social media. Direct contact with Yyour household habits, such as using less water and recycling, will likely rub off on them and enable them to do the same. Even better, you can cook vegan meals for your friends and family to show them that sustainability not only benefits the environment, but also their appetites. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. A vegan diet not only limits your greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduces your impact on land and water use. In the UK it is averaged that if everyone switched to the World Health Organisation’s healthy daily diet, we’d save 15 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Individual Impact

Adapting a more sustainable lifestyle and becoming a more environmentally savvy traveller starts with personal responsibility for our part in our current climate. Until we recognise our inherent inherent consumptive habitsselfishness, progress towards a better climate cannot be made. Sustainability is a lifestyle, not just something we focus on the once or twice a year whenthat we go on holiday. We have to own the problem and live the solution.

Destination management

Tourism is one of the most lucrative industries on the planet, offering commercial benefits to many destinations around the world. However, the negative effects of tourism are becoming more and more known. Destination management is key in developing strategies for the protection of a destination.

Tourism, one of the world’s largest industries, can offer commercial benefits to many destinations around the globe. Tourism can inject a much-needed shot of economic vitality, profitability and opportunity into a community. However, tourism can also bring many challenges, such as overcrowding, uneven distribution of wealth, strains on natural resources and a loss of local authenticity. Small island communities are particularly at risk, with destinations such as the Maldives experiencing high levels of tourism growth across a small and environmentally vulnerable landmass.

It’s wonderful thing that so many people are travelling and exploring what the world has to offer, but many destinations can no longer handle the rising onslaught of tourism. To tackle these issues, many local governments and communities have started implementing measures to preserve the cultural heritage and environmental integrity of destinations. These methods encourage responsible tourism and provide visitors with a more authentic experience whilst reducing their carbon footprint.

The main challenges destinations face include:


Have you ever been on vacation and had to push through crowds of tourists trying to get the best look at a painting in a museum or a natural viewpoint? This is a result of overtourism. Simply put, overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors in one area, leading to a decline in the quality of life and experience felt by both the locals and visitors. Overtourism has been much debated in recent years and is one of the most pressing issues the tourism industry faces today. However, it is not a new phenomenon. People have been travelling for hundreds of years and popular destinations have had to deal with the impact for just as long.

A main cause of overtourism is the increasing availability of affordable flights to the most popular destinations. Airlines like Ryanair and travel websites like Jetcost offer tourists flights to major cities, such as Barcelona, one of the most affected cities, for extremely low prices. While this may sound exciting if you are looking to travel on a budget, it is not helpful for cities trying to combat overtourism.

Effects of overtourism include:

  • overcrowding of public areas such as restaurants
  • increased congestion on roads
  • increase of tourist-focused businesses such as souvenir shops
  • decline of local businesses
  • damage to natural landscapes
  • pollution (noise and air) leading to public health risks
  • waste
  • rent increase for locals
  • degraded tourist experience
  • risk of damage to cultural heritage

Loss of authenticity

Overtourism can lead to the loss of authenticity of a destination. A place can lose its character when catering to a large influx of tourists and cause a deterioration of the residents’ identification with their home. The dominating provisions made for tourists can alienate the locals. For instance, numerous bars and nightclubs may be opened for tourists who seek ‘nightlife,’ diluting the original culture and infrastructure. The crowds these venues bring in may also unintentionally disrespect the local customs through inappropriate behaviours. Often, the built environment is drastically changed to cater for these tourist activities. The influx of hotels and enclave resorts can create a divide between locals and tourists, strengthening an unhealthy power dynamic.


Tourism requires a lot of travel via, road, rail, warer, air or a combination of all four. This increases emissions from automobiles and planes, which are the biggest causes of air pollution. Tourists now account for nearly 60% of air travel, meaning that our vacations are contributing the most to carbon pollution. The volume of vehicles on roads in tourism destinations is also a contributor, as well as a cause for mass congestion.

As well as air pollution, popular destinations tend to have trouble with noise. In addition to cars, the loud music of tourist nightlife disturbs both the locals and wildlife. The natural activity of the destination is therefore altered long-term, sometimes drastically, depending on the location. The late-night character of these establishments and increased use of artificial and excessive light can also lead to an issue with light pollution. Though less environmentally damaging than carbon pollution, superfluous light emissions can disrupt the sleep of locals and tourists, waste billions of dollars on energy and interfere with avian navigation (flight patterns of birds).

Strains on resources

Tourism also affects a destination’s natural resources. In tropical destinations especially, water is often used in favour of fortourism over agriculture. This can causes a rift between locals and tourists. A 2012 study from the University of the West of England showed that 60% of Bali’s water was being consumed by the tourism industry. This negatively impacts farmers and food supplysupplies for locals. However, there are ways to help reduce your impact while on vacation. In addition to shorter showers and reusing towels at your hotel, you can opt to eat at local restaurants and shop at local markets to help profits reach the nativelocal population.

Possible solutions

Destination Management Organizations

Destination management is a key aspect in the development of sustainable tourism. When destinations are well managed, through combined efforts of their governments and local organisations, benefits from tourism can be reaped.

Therefore, solutions for the challenges destinations face, can lie in Destination Management Organisations (DMOs). DMOs help represent a specific destination and develop tourism locally by offering a range of services. The logistic services usually include sorting transportation, accommodation, activities, tours etc. for visitors. Most DMOs are not-for-profit and focus on supporting community economic development by collaborating with local independent businesses that rely on tourism for income. The core values of many DMOs are to ensure economic and environmental sustainability through their services, thus serving sustainable tourism goals. By collaborating with local communities for tourism management, the destinations retain their cultural richness while creating community well-being and tourist satisfaction.

Marketing as a powerful tool in the fight against overtourism

Another way overtourism can be combatted is through marketing strategies. If a destination is becoming over crowdedovercrowded, marketing to higher end, ‘quality travellers’ looking for a more in-depth, cultural experience can help some of the aforementioned issues. This traveller is more likely to visit for a longer period of time and contribute more to the local economy. For example, Amsterdam & Partners is the official marketing and branding organisation for the city and works to downplay attractions such as the Red Light District or the infamous “coffeeshops” in order to bring focus to the city’s more esoteric attractions and attempts to welcome more business and conference tourism.

In addition to luxury marketing, destinations have begun to market themselves as sustainable by adhering to a tourism pledge. This means that the destination creates a campaign to ask tourists to be environmentally conscious during their trip. Although this can easily be seen as a public relations stunt, it actually attracts the high-value travellers destinations are looking to host.

Tourism pledges also help educate visitors about global sustainability issues and how they can manage their impact as ‘responsible tourists.’ This benefits both the location and the tourists, as they will be better equipped to travel sustainably in the future.

Regenerative Tourism

Regenerative tourism is a component of responsible tourism that specifically aims at restoring the land, wildlife and culture of destinations. It can include engaging visitors with long term and on-going community projects, such as tree plantings and beach clean-ups. It can also incorporate culturally significant festivals and events to celebrate local heritage.

It focuses on regenerating communities with on-going, long-term methods that further involve visitors. For instance, excursions such as tree planting, ocean clean-ups and festivals celebrating the local culture. These activities give back to communities whilst allowing the tourists to contribute to a lasting positive impact on the destinations they visit.

Sourcing local food is another way to promote the regeneration of a destination. Markets provide locally produced foods, which in turn create environmental and social benefits. Locally produced food is not only more sustainable, but it buying local foods helps maintain regional identities. The create economic benefits ofby increasing profits for local communities will help keep traditions alive and allow locals and tourists alike to enjoy culturally important foods. Moreover, visitors should be encouraged to shop at local stores for crafts, instead of souvenir shops, in order to benefit the local economy.

Native populations can also reap income-generating benefits of tourism through homestays. Further than income, homestays provide environmental and cultural benefits.Homestays can range from a family home setting to more rural community-based accommodation. In comparison to hotels, they use far less energy and resources, often utilising efficient water and waste management. They also provide a richer and more authentic tourism experience by offering the chance to learn about local customs and traditions.Unlike hotels, homes do not consume large amounts of energy and resources because water consumption and waste management are usually more efficient. Through a homestay experience, tourists also gain an authentic insight into the lives of the community members.

Local policying

Tourism can be regulated through the implementation of local policylocal policing. But what exactly does tourism policy look like? Tourism policy and planning can be defined as a set of practices, decisions and guidelines, often in collaboration with governments and local/private actors, with the intention of achieving long term tourism development. This includes plans for attractions and activities, accommodation, transportation and infrastructure. Effective local policy This isis essential in order for a tourism industry to run smoothly; however, many countries, especially underdeveloped destinations in the Global South, do not have the proper planning set in place. Destination management can therefore be unstructured and underfunded. Tourism planning will vary between destinations but is essential to optimise the contribution of tourism to human welfare and environmental quality.

An effective method of tourism planning is to encourage public-private partnerships. A public-private partnership is unique to every country, but generally, private entities and NGOs contribute financing, management expertise and advice to public entities in order to create tourism plans. This partnership is helpful for both parties as the destruction of natural or cultural assets, resulting in decreased visitor demand, hurts private business as well as the public sector. In some cases, governments, NGOs and the local community can collaborate to achieve a common goal. A good example of this is The Tsodilo Hills World Heritage Site, which through collaborative planning, was promoted as a tourism attraction and developed to include a craft centre for the community to sell their crafts.

Tourism planning will vary between destinations, but is essential to achieve sustainability as it seeks to optimise the contribution of tourism to human welfare and environmental quality.

Community led approach

An approach to overtourism led by the community is a great way to tackle the environmental issues and educate people at the same time. Public-private partnerships help streamline sustainability. A public-private partnership is unique to every country, but generally, private entities and NGOs contribute financing, management expertise and advice to the public entities in order to create tourism plans. This partnership is helpful for both parties because the destruction of natural or cultural assets, resulting in decreased visitor demand, hurts private business as well as the public sector.

Community based tourism

Community based tourism is a tourism practice in which local residents open up their communities to visitors. This enables residents to earn a living by inviting tourists in and working as land managers, entrepreneurs, service providers and employees and more. Then, part of the profit from tourism is set aside to benefit the local community as a whole. Not only does this benefit the destination’s local economy, but tourists also get to feel more a part of the traditional culture and discover local habitats and wildlife. Community based tourism is promoted as being the opposite to mass tourism, as it is developed and operated by the local community. It can encourage and possibly reinforce local culture, heritage and traditions. As such, it increases people’s ownership of tourism at the destination end and enables control to stay within the local community. In this tourism plan, communities supply visitors with accommodation sufficient for Westerners, access to a phone and access to email. The community can partner with private companies to provide capital and marketing or other expertise. This model has been successful in the past, in destinations such as the Bolivian Amazon, and allows local families to receive direct economic benefits from tourism.

However, community tourism can suffer from the same limitations as other forms of tourism. Lack of coordination or information can limit the success of community based initiatives, as well as a lack of financial resources. Again, this brings us back to the idea of local policy and tourism planning, which can help alleviate the strain if properly implemented.

Impact of Destination Management

Properly planning for tourists will help destinations prepare for the environmental impact that comes along with them. Tourists should be able to visit and participate in local experiences. However, in order for this to be a sustainable endeavour, greater importance must be placed on tourism management and the impact locals feel from visitors.