New research suggests that domestic and international tourism combined for a much larger share of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions than originally believed. This comes on the heels of reports that carbon dioxide levels recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recently reached their highest point in six decades.
In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers reported that the lucrative tourism space is responsible for about 8 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, a figure close to four times larger than what was previously estimated. This is a figure that encompasses all types of tourism-related emissions, including those that come from jet and car engines, and the “millions of supply chains” required to support travelers, according to a report from Mashable.
With tourism expected to keep growing faster than most other economic sectors, and revenue from the industry likely to increase steadily by about 4 percent each year until 2025, the researchers believe that the new figures are a troubling sign, as the world continues to deal with the global warming effect largely caused by the greenhouse gases released when fossil fuels are burned. The study also noted how emissions began to increase significantly in the four-year period between 2009 and 2013 when global travel expenditures rose from $2.5 trillion to $4.7 trillion.
As recapped by Space Daily, wealthier nations were still responsible for the biggest shares of tourism-related carbon dioxide emissions, with the United States again ranking first overall, and Germany, Canada, and Great Britain also listed in the top 10. This list, however, also included several emerging countries, including China, India, Mexico, and Brazil, which placed second, fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
“We see very fast tourism demand growth from China and India over the past few years, and also expect this trend will continue in the next decade or so,” said study co-author and Queensland Business School professor Ya-Sen Sun, in a statement.
“Besides the sheer population number, what’s worrying is that people with a rising income tend to travel further, more frequently, and with a higher reliance on aviation.”
All in all, the greenhouse gases generated by the entire aviation industry take up 2 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which, Space Daily noted, would allow it to rank 12th overall in the above list if it were classified as a country.
The new study came just days after Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Ralph Keeling revealed that carbon dioxide emissions tracked at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reached a 60-year high. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, last month’s data showed atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 410 parts per million (ppm), which marked a huge jump from the 315-ppm levels recorded in 1958, and the early Industrial Revolution-era levels of about 280 ppm.