Travel companies need to examine accommodation and food as well as transport when trying to reduce carbon emissions, new research suggests.
A study looking at four of Responsible Travel’s specialist holiday companies – in France, Devon, Croatia and Spain – found tourists’ meals and hotels can account for a large proportion of the emissions generated by a trip.
The data was commissioned by Responsible Travel with Professor Stefan Gossling of Lund University and Dr Ya-Yen Sun of The University of Queensland.
It found although transport is still the largest polluter during a holiday overall, there were cases where a traveller’s ’foodprint’ is greater.
Smaller accommodations can also emit four times less carbon than larger hotel chains.
Some important news from us this morning (at least we think so!). We are releasing carbon audits (across food, transport, accommodation) of 4 holidays - the results are surprising - and calling for industry wide carbon labelling https://t.co/mAzslZMIZx— Justin Francis (@justinmfrancis) January 14, 2020
Where more climate-friendly choices are made, emissions on a trip can be similar to the global sustainable average per day, which is 10kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
“We have learned a lot already: top-notch holiday experiences can be very low-carbon,” said Gossling.
“This is an exciting way of moving forward on decarbonisation; it helps travellers find the most sustainable and exciting trips, and encourages system change. I hope that other tour operators will follow suit in developing similar tools.”
Justin Francis, Responsible Travel’s chief executive, added: “It came as a surprise to find that, in some cases, food emissions might be greater than those of your flight.
“Eating more plant-based and locally grown food, reducing your food waste and staying in renewable-powered accommodation becomes an important part of reducing the carbon emissions of your holiday.”
He said the industry must tackle these issues in the current climate crisis.