Arunima Malik (University of Sydney)

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INTERVIEW WITH Arunima Malik
(Lecturer in Sustainability - The University of Sydney)

“TOURISM: REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT IS POSSIBLE, BUT GLOBAL EFFORT IS NEEDED"

We all like travelling… But do we know how much impactful are our travelling choices in terms of carbon emissions? In which way can we reduce them? The answer comes from a study conducted by Arunima Malik (University of Sydney ) and a team of researchers from China, Indonesia and Australia. They say 8% of global emissions come from Tourism and that a lot can be done to lessen this percentage. Arunima Malik gave us more details about their study analysis and results.

http://sydney.edu.au/science/people/arunima.malik.php 

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INTERVIEW - (June 2018)
This interview was made and published in June 2018 on www.lteconomy.org  
Subject: The carbon footprint of Tourism
 
By Dario Ruggiero, Founder of Long Term Economy 
 
 

Highlights 

  • Our recent study has found that tourism is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Our results can be used to inform future policy…
  • We know that tourism provides a source of income for many countries, so it is crucial to look at a complete triple bottom line assessment of tourism to assess the sustainability of this sector.
  • International travel is responsible for about 23% of global carbon footprint of tourism, rest is domestic travel.
  • Tourism is a high income affair, because visitors from high income countries spend on air transport, shopping, processed food, hospitality - these have high carbon intensities.
  • At international and national levels, adequate policy-measures should be put in place for reducing the emissions from tourism, in various sectors such as transport and accommodation.
  • I think we all need to collectively work together for achieving a more sustainable society, from institutional to personal changes.

 

 

“We know that tourism provides a source of income for many countries, so it is crucial to look at a complete triple bottom line assessment of tourism to assess the sustainability of this sector.”
 
 
1. Question: Dear Arunima Malik. Thank you for being with us. Your recent study touches an important aspect of our life: Tourism; and you are going to tell us whether it can be sustainable or not. But first, why should it be taken into account in Climate Change policies?
 
Tourism is an important aspect of many people's lives. Our recent study has found that tourism is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Our results can be used to inform future policy, especially for reducing emissions from the transportation sector, which is an important component of tourism.
 
 
2. Question: So, 8% of global emissions… What’s wrong and what’s good with today’s Tourism? Breaking it down in its various components (Travel, local transportation, hotel stay, food consumption etc…), what makes the most of its emissions?
 
We did a comprehensive assessment by taking into account all upstream supply chains of a range of commodities, such as travel, shopping, food consumption etc. To this end, we coupled a comprehsnsive supply chain model with tourism satellite accounts for 160 countries, over a 5 year time period. We know that tourism provides a source of income for many countries, so it is crucial to look at a complete triple bottom line assessment of tourism to assess the sustainability of this sector.
 
 
“International travel is responsible for about 23% of global carbon footprint of tourism, rest is domestic travel…”
 
 
3. Question: Local tourism vs international tourism; business tourism vs leisure tourism. What’s the most impactful one?
 
International travel is responsible for about 23% of global carbon footprint of tourism, rest is domestic travel. Our study includes both business and leisure tourism. We have not presented the results for these two forms of tourism, separately.
 
 
4. Question: Your study includes 160 countries. You describe travel as a "largely a high-income affair." Why?
 
Tourism is a high income affair, because visitors from high income countries spend on air transport, shopping, processed food, hospitality - these have high carbon intensities. Also, half of the carbon footprint growth occurred in high-income countries.
 
 
5. Question: That said, in which way tourism carbon footprint could be reduced? What can be done at an international, national and individual level?
 
We hope our study will raise awareness at multiple levels to reduce the carbon footprint of tourism. At international and national levels, adequate policy-measures should be put in place for reducing the emissions from tourism, in various sectors such as transport and accommodation. At an individual level, we hope consumers will keep track of their emissions from tourism, and employ steps, where possible, to offset their emissions.
 
 
6. Question: However, it’s not just a question of carbon emissions. Sustainability in Tourism must take into account other factors (social, economic and ecological). Some countries actually depend on Tourism. What do you suggest to them to become sustainable in Tourism?
 
That's correct, hence a triple bottom line assessment of tourism is required for understanding the impacts and trade-offs.
 
 
7. Question: Finally, in your career you have made a lot of other research focused on sustainability. How do you imagine a sustainable society? In which sector (energy, agriculture, industry, construction) is it more important to act to reduce CO2 emissions and advancing towards a sustainable society?
 
I think we all need to collectively work together for achieving a more sustainable society, from institutional to personal changes.
 
 
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