Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeGeneral TourismBlue-sky thinking needed for low carbon tourism in NZ, says think tank

Blue-sky thinking needed for low carbon tourism in NZ, says think tank

Creative solutions will be needed to reduce the carbon footprint of the New Zealand tourism sector by 2050, says thinkstep-anz following a comprehensive study done for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Tourism was responsible for 9 per cent of New Zealand’s national emissions in 2017, and we outsource a further 6 per cent of our domestic emissions to the world through the international flights taken to get here and in the production of the goods and services that tourists purchase while in New Zealand.

By 2050, international aviation will make up the majority of the sector’s emissions, with New Zealand domestic emissions decreasing as the Zero Carbon Act is implemented. Tourism is the most significant industry for economic earnings, and provides jobs and opportunities for small business up and down the country.

"The high proportion of international aviation emissions is not surprising given New Zealand’s geographic remoteness," says CEO of thinkstep-anz Barbara Nebel.

"Our projections assume business as usual, which will see international tourism growing.

"We have not projected the possible impact of the flight-shame movement on tourism demand. But in any case, creative solutions will be needed to reduce emissions from international aviation.

"These could include encouraging more domestic tourism, welcoming more visitors from our closest markets such as Australia, or promoting slow travel where visitors make the most of their trip by staying for longer and really getting to know New Zealand culture and hospitality. These could be done in ways that alleviate the other environmental pressures identified in the sector."

The total carbon footprint of New Zealand’s tourism industry was estimated to be 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2017. Over a third (37 per cent) was generated by international and domestic air transport, higher than the international average of 25 per cent.

A further 16 per cent came from international supply chains for goods and services consumed in New Zealand.

More than half (58 per cent) of emissions were generated within New Zealand, representing around 9 per cent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

Domestic road, air, rail and water transport account for the majority (55 per cent) of the tourism-related emissions generated within New Zealand’s borders. Consumption of food and beverages (24 per cent) and shopping for consumer goods (10 per cent) also make significant contributions.

By 2050, however, domestic emissions are projected to decrease as New Zealand makes progress on measures to reduce emissions, stimulated by Government policies to implement the Zero Carbon Act.

The report addresses the environmental and cultural impacts of tourism and what ongoing business-as-usual growth could mean both for the environment and for the vulnerability of the tourism sector.

"The report raises key issues for this crucial sector," says Barbara.

"At the forefront of many people’s minds will be the tragic loss of life on Whakaari/White Island last week. True sustainability starts with people. We encourage an ongoing conversation across the sector to find ways to nurture both the people and the land in this time of uncertainty."

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