UPSC – Environment Notes: Carbon Foot print of Tourism

This blog is a summary of the articleThe carbon footprint of tourism revealed (it’s bigger than we thought)” published in “Down to Earth” Magazine. We are presenting you the Environment notes through this summary as the topics covered in this article – Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, Tourism etc are all important for UPSC preparation. To continue to aid and assist in your UPSC preparation we will be bringing similar Environment notes to you in future as well.

Environment Notes: Carbon Footprint of Tourism

What is Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. (Source Wikipedia –

The carbon footprint of tourism is about four times larger than previously thought, according to a world-first study published in Nature Climate Change

global tourism which includes its supply chain made up of transportation, accommodation, food and beverages, souvenirs, clothing, cosmetics and other goods, produces about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure is very high than the historical estimates.


Tourism-related emissions increased by 15% from 2009 (3.9 Gigatonnes(Gt)) to 2013 (4.5 Gt) mainly because of the tourist spending on transport, shopping and food. By 2025 the Tourism related emissions are estimated to reach 6.5 Gt driven by rising incomes.

The Responsibility of the emission lies with both the Travellers and the Tourist Destinations as per 2 systems of accounting viz. residence-based accounting and destination-based accounting.

Home countries of the travellers would need to find ways to reduce carbon footprint through travel to cut back on the tourist emissions. (Residence based Accounting)

The Tourist Destination countries could reduce the carbon footprint of tourism by investing in technology and bringing in regulations. (destination-based accounting)

As per both methods of accounting, USA ranks one in the tourism-based carbon emissions. USA is followed by China, Germany and India.

The Major impact of the Tourism-based carbon emissions is on small Island nations which are famous tourist destinations. Tourism is vital to their economy; however, it is also proving to be a big threat to their biodiversity.


Technological support to the Island nations in developing carbon-free or carbon sensitive infrastructure could prove very helpful in the fight for the reduction of carbon emissions.

Steps would have to be taken at multiple levels starting form Personal level. Large corporations and Governments would have to work hand in hand to effectively tackle the situation.

We hope the Environment notes presented through this blog are useful in your UPSC preparation. For Similar environment notes for UPSC keep coming back to this space.

The source of this article is –

All the best with your UPSC preparation.

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