According to the information, in 2019 – the busiest year in the history of tourism – the climate footprint of the sector was 8.1% of the total, compared to the 7.3% it contributed in 2010, for example. Before the pandemic, aviation alone contributed 2.5% of all polluting emissions globally.
The figure of 8.1% fell by almost half in 2020, with the outbreak of the pandemic that drastically halted tourist activity worldwide, to 4.2%, to then recover slightly in 2021, to 4.6% of the total.
This implies that the current climate footprint of tourism is still around 40% below the 2019 peak, while economic activity has already largely recovered. The WTTC expects that by the end of this year the distance will be cut to 13%.
According to the president and executive director of WTTC, Julia Simpson, this is the most ambitious investigation of its kind ever undertaken – thanks to “very, very, very, very relevant” funding from Saudi Arabia -, which allows studying the environmental impact of each tourism subsector, although the organization has not yet released the details of the study.
“The divergence between the economic growth of the sector and its climate footprint between 2010 and 2019 (at a rate of 4.3% per year) is evidence that the economic growth (of the sector) is being decoupled from its greenhouse gas emissions “by 2.4% per year”, he explained.