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Is there a "environmentally friendly" tourism ?

june 2004 - august 2004 for the translation

website of the author : www.manicore.com - contact the author : jean-marc@manicore.com

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Periodically a journalist (them again !) exposes that a travel agent offers some "environmentally friendly" tour packages. Attentively reading the article allows to realize that all it is about is that tourist will have to pick up their litter, or will be polite with the autochthones.

It might also be mentioned, sometimes, that the hotel will have a solar panel on the roof, or that the luxury suite built next to the lagoon has been voluntarily kept low so that it is harmoniously integrated in the landscape.

Still, the most "eco-friendly" tourism is not necessarily where every journalist would expect it. If we stick to greenhouse gases emissions (which correspond, more or less, to the fossil fuel consumption), one has better go camping in the crowd near the sea-side...

Greenhouse gases emissions, in kg carbon equivalent, generated by the holidays of four French persons, depending on the destination (we assume they travel from France, of course !). However the total for 2 people, except for skiing and hotel in Marocco, would be about the same (refer to hypotheses below).

It appears that modernity is intensive in emissions : skiing, recent holidays rentals, and planes are more modern than camping, caravans, or old family houses.....

The red bar represents the maximum CO2 emissions per person and per year that have to be achieved in order to stabilize CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

Sources : Jancovici for IFEN, 2004, to be published

Actually, from the climate's point of view, as soon as one gets into a plane "it's lost", as the little chart below will show. Picking up one's litter, regarding the climate problem, is totally secondary....

 

Greenhouse gases emissions per passenger flying from or to Paris (in kg carbon equivalent), depending on the class, for a couple a destinations.

The red bar represents the maximum CO2 emissions per person and per year that have to be achieved in order to stabilize CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Obviously an efficient action against climate change is not compatible with a generalized air travel.

Sources : Jancovici/Ademe, from Carbon Inventory

And if there is something for which no-one can say "I can't do any other way", one of the most often heard sentences as soon as a change in the consumption habits is discussed, it is definitely tourism ! And the above result explains, among other elements, why "nature lovers" are not necessarily ecologists...

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Detail of hypotheses used for the calculations that produced the chart at the top of the page

The table below lists the detailed hypotheses that have been used t calculate the emissions by nature of holidays shown on the chart at the top of the page. Please note that these hypotheses are representative of the "average French" and that the result does not reflect any situation of the same nature. For example, if a Dutch family goes to Spain, the distance traveled for the return trip will be closer to 2500 km than to 1000 km. Hence the totals below are indicative, and should not be considered as valid results no matter what.

The following items are not included in the calculations, for they are considered not to be different during the holidays than during the rest of the year :

food,

purchases of manufactured products (this assumption might be a little bold regarding clothes, because clothes that are bought just for the holidays might represent a significant fraction of overall cloth sales...),

sanitary hot water

Totals have been systematically calculated for 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks.

Type of holidays

Kg carbon equivalent depending on the duration of the stay

Observations
Camping

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

one month
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Moving by car during the stay

7

14

21

28

100 km per week in mixed conditions
Production of the tent

0,75

1,5

2,25

3

a 30 kg tent lasting 10 years and used one month per year
total

68

76

83

91

Summer holidays in a caravan
Initial trip (and back)

90

90

90

90

1000 km by car. The car is assumed to be larger thaan the average and to use as much gasoline as if it were in urban trafic.
Moving by car during the stay

7

14

21

28

100 km per week in mixed conditions
Production of the caravan

11

22

33

44

A 500 kg caravan lasting 10 years and used one month per year
total

108

126

144

162

In an old family house during the summer
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Moving by car during the stay

7

14

21

28

100 km per week in mixed conditions
Maintenance of the house

7,5

15

22,5

30

On the basis of 150 euros of monthly maintenance charges (all year round) and 2 months of occupancy per year
total

75

89

104

118

Summer holidays in a rented flat
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Moving by car during the stay

7

14

21

28

100 km per week in mixed conditions
Construction of the flat

20

40

60

80

60 m2 flat with a concrete structure, amortized over 30 years, occupied 3 months per year.
Maintenance of the flat

5

10

15

20

On the basis of 150 euros of monthly maintenance charges and 3 months of occupancy per year
total

92

124

156

188

Summer holidays in a rented modern house
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Moving by car during the stay

7

14

21

28

100 km per week in mixed conditions
Construction of the house

75

150

225

300

150 m2 house with a concrete structure, amortized over 30 years, occupied 2 months per year.
Maintenance of the house

20

40

60

80

On the basis of 500 euros of monthly maintenance charges and 2 months of occupancy per year
total

162

264

366

468

Hotel in Marocco
4 plane tickets for Marocco (from Paris)

960

960

960

960

4 people, 4000 km travelled for the return trip, second class
Hotel on the spot

14

28

42

56

25 m2 of surface (for 4) in a concrete based structure, amortized over 30 years, and occupied 4 months per year on average
Local services

10

20

30

40

Wild guess.....
Total

984

1008

1032

1056

Skiing in the winter
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Construction of the flat

50

100

150

200

50 m2 flat with a concrete structure, amortized over 30 years, occupied 1 month per year on average.
Heating

60

120

180

240

10 litres of fuel oil per day for the flat
Miscellaneous

20

40

60

80

Ski lifts, maintenance of the flat...
Total

190

320

450

580

Sailing with a rented boat
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Construction of the boat

25

50

75

100

6 tonnes sailboat, serving 30 years, and rented or used 2 months per year
Diesel oil for the engine

8

16

24

32

10 litres of diesel oil per week
Rental agency fees and maintenance

4

8

12

16

Wild guess...
Total

97

134

171

208

Sailing in one's boat
Initial trip (and back)

60

60

60

60

1000 km by car in extra-urban trafic
Construction of the boat

50

100

150

200

6 tonnes sailboat, serving 30 years, used 1 month per year
Diesel oil for the engine

8

16

24

32

10 litres of diesel oil per week
Maintenance

4

8

12

16

Wild guess...
Total

122

184

246

308

Bicycle trip (initial travel by train)
Initial trip (and back)

12

12

12

12

4 train tickets for 1000 km (return trip) and French railways (for a foreign railways the amount could be up to 5 times higher)
Lodging

14

28

42

56

25 m2 of surface (for 4) in a concrete based structure, amortized over 30 years, and occupied 4 months per year on average
Miscellaneous (bike maintenance, maps...)

3

6

9

12

Wild guess...
Total

29

46

63

80

 

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