Impact of air travel

Tourism is also one of the greatest environmental threats, above all due to the impact of air travel. Aviation accounts for up to 75% of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, while coach and rail travel amount to 13% and accommodation approximately 20%. In 2017 there were 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals globally, of which the majority (57%) travelled by air, the most polluting form of transport per passenger-kilometre.

The continued growth in popularity for air travel has made aviation one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) reporting a 32% increase in CO2 emissions since 2013. If current trends continue, aviation could be responsible for consuming a quarter of the 1.5°C carbon budget by 2050.

Increasingly, tourists are taking longer flights than most business travellers. What’s more, these emissions are released directly into the upper atmosphere where they cause far more damage, and more rapidly, than if released at ground level. Thus, taking the train to Paris instead of flying effectively cuts CO2 emissions by 90%. Given how hellish airports are these days this is an increasingly popular option.


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