Greenhouse Gas Emissions Linked to Tourism-Related Transport Are Rising

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

The number of tourists travelling across borders is expected to reach 1.8 billion a year by 2030, according to the latest UNWTO predictions. This will be alongside a further 15.6 billion domestic tourist arrivals. Such growth will bring many opportunities, including socio-economic development and job creation. At the same time, however, greenhouse gas emissions linked to tourism-related transport are also rising, challenging the tourism sector’s ambition to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

UNWTO and ITF embarked on this research project with the aim of providing evidence of the CO2 emissions from tourism and the implications of the different modes of transport. The report provides insights into the evolution of tourism demand across the different global regions up to the year 2030. It also presents the expected transport-related CO2 emissions of the tourism sector against the current ambition scenario for the decarbonization of transport.


  • Tourism has grown continuously over the past decades offering opportunities for socio-economic development, job creation and the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.
  • This growth also comes with great responsibilities, notably with regards to environmental impacts and climate change.
  • Acording to our latest research in 2016 transport-related emissions from tourism contributed to 5% of all man-made emissions and are to increase to 5.3 % by 2030 if the current ambition is not increasing.
  • UNWTO is committed to accelerate progress towards low carbon tourism development  and the contribution of the sector to international climate goals.

New report: Transport-related CO2 emissions of the tourism sector

  • Presents a forecast of CO2 emissions to 2030 against the current ambition scenario for the decarbonization of tourism transport.
  • Against a current ambition scenario, by 2030 transport-related CO2 emissions from tourism will grow 25% from 2016 levels (from 1597 Mt of CO2 to 1998 Mt of CO2).
  • This growth in CO2 emissions will represent 5,3% of all man-made emissions in 2030.
  • Sets the basis to scale up climate action and ambition in the tourism sector.

Transport-related CO2 emissions of the tourism sector are 22% of the whole emissions from transport and therefore enhanced cooperation with the transport sector is essential to support the implementation of a high-ambition scenario.

At the same time, tourism has to determine its own high-ambition scenario, beyond transport; a scenario where tourism would transform towards low emission and highly efficient operations.

Source: UNWTO