Pulling together Data on Environmental Harms by Tourism, Hospitality and Destination Development

On this post I’m going to pull together some of what I think is the most salient data on harms related to tourism, hospitality (which includes food and drink) and the destination built environment.

It will grow over time, bear with me if its a bit disjointed at first while I’m growing it.


Aviation contributes 2.5% of Green House Gases

A small minority of frequent flyers dominate air travel in almost all countries with high aviation emissions, analysis suggests. In the US, just 12% of people take two-thirds of flights Possible (wearepossible.org)

– In the UK, 70% of flights are made by a wealthy 15% of the population
– In the US, just 12% of people take two-thirds of flights.
– Canada: 22% of the population takes 73% of flights
– The Netherlands: 8% of people takes 42% of flights.
– China: 5% of households takes 40% of flights
– India: 1% of households takes 45% of flights.
– Indonesia: 3% of households takes 56% of flights

“While the poorest communities are already suffering the impacts of a warming climate, the benefits of high-carbon lifestyles are enjoyed only by the few. A lot of people travel. But only the privileged few fly often.”

Tourism provides 10% of World GDP (UNEP)

Tourism contributes 8% of Climate Gases (Nature)

“Tourism has been described as the world’s largest transfer of resources from rich to poor, dwarfing international aid,” BBC
“the largest voluntary transfer of cash from the rich to the poor, the ‘haves’ to ‘have nots’, in history”. Even if one allows for considerable “leakage” Guardian newspaper

Meat and Dairy – Total emissions from global livestock: represent 14.5% of anthropogenic (human activity) GHG emissions (UN FAO)

Cattle (raised for both beef and milk, as well as for inedible outputs like manure and draft power) are the animal species responsible for the most emissions, representing about 65% of the livestock sector’s emissions. About 44 percent of livestock emissions are in the form of methane (CH4). The remaining part is almost equally shared between Nitrous Oxide (N2O, 29 percent) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2, 27 percent). (UN FAO)

Food and Agriculture

Agriculture and Food systems produce 34% of Green House Gas emissions (Nature Food)

Of which within that 34%:

  • 29% of that is related to packaging, transport, selling and disposing of food
  • 32% from land use change to agriculture by deforestation, and removal of peatlands or wetlands
  • 71% through rearing or growing

Affluence & Wealth

The world’s wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%, according to the UN.

The wealthiest 10% of people were responsible for almost half of the rise in CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2015 ( Confronting Carbon Inequality: (openrepository.com))

Indigenous People

Indigenous peoples worldwide protect and sustain 80% of the world’s biodiversity, Constituting only 5 percent of the world population, indigenous peoples nevertheless are vital stewards of the environment. Traditional indigenous territories encompass 22 percent of the world’s land surface, but 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. UN FAO

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