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Don’t cut the branch you are sitting on: tourism sector needs a strategic plan to protect the climate and reduce CO2 emissions

Tourism accounts for ten per cent of the global gross national product and is responsible for eight per cent of all CO2 emissions worldwide. “One could say that this is a fair share, but on the other hand tourism is cutting off the branch on which it is sitting by contributing to climate change”, explained Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, former director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research (PIK), at the ITB Convention in Berlin. To ensure that tourism remains viable in the future the industry must undergo a transformation and develop a strategic plan in order to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 that it produces. “If the Antarctic ice melts and the sea level rises by sixty metres, which would be the likely outcome if there was a worldwide temperature increase of 4 to 5 degrees, there will be no beaches anywhere in the world, and no beach tourism either”, Schellnhuber warned.

As Schellnhuber explicitly stated at the CSR Day during ITB Berlin, climate change is not a uniform process but more of a disruptive one that could lead to a total collapse. Fundamental changes are needed to counteract this and to achieve the objectives of the Paris climate accord. Schellnhuber proposed a high speed rail network for travel within Europe, enabling cities such as Rome or Madrid to be reached quickly and comfortably from Germany.

Schellnhuber focussed particular attention on the cruise sector. There are currently cruise ships emitting as many fine particulates as one million cars. It is certainly technically feasible to introduce changes, for example by switching to liquid gas or by using sails.

Rainer Heubeck



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