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Blue skies thinking needed for low carbon tourism in NZ

Blue skies thinking needed for low carbon tourism in New Zealand

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% of New Zealand’s national emissions in 2017, and we outsource a further 6% 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.

Barbara Nebel, CEO of thinkstep-anz said “The high proportion of international aviation emissions is not surprising given New Zealand’s geographic remoteness. 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%) was generated by international and domestic air transport, higher than the international average of 25%. A further 16% came from international supply chains for goods and services consumed in New Zealand.

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

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

thinkstep-anz conducted the data analysis for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, supporting the report released today, “Pristine, popular … imperilled? The environmental consequences of projected tourism growth in New Zealand”, available from https://www.pce.parliament.nz/publications/pristine-popular-imperilled-the-environmental-consequences-of-projected-tourism-growth

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.
Barbara Nebel said “The report raises key issues for this crucial sector. 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.”

Previous studies of the emissions footprint of New Zealand tourism

The carbon footprint of global tourism, Jun 2018, Manfred Lenzen, Ya-Yen Sun, Futu Faturay and Arunima Malik. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324992370_The_carbon_footprint_of_global_tourism

The Carbon Footprint of Domestic Tourism, August 2009, Susanne Becken.
https://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10182/1216/becken_carbon_footprint.pdf;sequence=1

International aviation emissions have been mapped by the Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard, supported by the Griffith Institute for Tourism.
https://www.tourismdashboard.org/explore-the-data/carbon-emissions/

About thinkstep-anz
thinkstep-anz’s mission is to enable organisations worldwide to succeed sustainably, by developing strategies, delivering roadmaps and projects, and implementing leading software solutions. We help organisations such as Fletcher Building, Sanford, Villa Maria, New Zealand Steel and Lion to embed sustainability in their organisations and products.

thinkstep-anz is a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition and a Certified B Corp, has an approved science-based target and is a member of the Sustainable Business Council. thinkstep-anz is headquartered in Wellington and is part of the global thinkstep group, with 300 sustainability experts worldwide.
www.thinkstep-anz.com

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