Title: Tourism Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Proposal of a New Methodological Framework for Sustainable Consumption and Production
Publisher: Intech
Publication Year: 2012
JRC N°: JRC69335
ISBN: 978-953-51-0520-6
URI: http://www.intechopen.com/articles/show/title/tourism-life-cycle-assessment-lca-a-new-methodological-framework-for-sustainable-consumption-and-pro
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Tourism has become an important part of modern life styles, besides being one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors worldwide, in spite of occasional shocks over the last decade (UNWTO 2010). Tourism’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is – when direct contribution and multipliers are included - estimated at up to 10% in some advanced, diversified economies. However, this strong growth also implies an increase of undesired environmental impacts. Tourism is globally responsible for 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions, the most important greenhouse gas causing climate change (UNWTO UNEP WMO 2008). However, in terms of radiative forcing, the direct measure for contribution to climate change, tourism even could have share of up to 12.5% (Scott et al., 2010). Also, the greenhouse gas emissions of tourism are estimated to grow at a rather large rate, while a globally emissions should be reduced with up to 80% by 2050 (e.g. Scott et al., 2010). Finally, it has been shown that the eco-efficiency – the economic contribution per ton emissions – of tourism is rather low (Gössling et al., 2005). Theses data totally clash with the view, actually slightly common to many re¬searchers in the past, according to which tourism is a low environmental impact industry (McCrory 2006). Now, it is a shared concept that tourist activities are strongly related to the environment, since, on the one hand, the natural environment itself may be consid¬ered as a major input resource to the processes of tourism industries, and, on the other hand, the development of tourism as a mass industry may severely increase its overall impact on the environment (Butler 2004; Raggi and Petti 2006; Romeril 1989). Given the predictions of an increased role of tourism industries in the world economy, the environmental aspects of, and impacts gen¬erated by tourist activities should be accurately considered according to a Life Cycle Thinking perspective. This concept has been extensively advocated as the proper way of addressing the challenges linked with sustainable development, and, in particular, with those measures for enhancing sustainable consumption and production. In the framework of sustainable development policies, the “Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP) Action Plan” (European Commission 2008) is a building block in the EU. In line with this policy, a wide range of environmental instruments have been developed so far for assessment and labelling/certification purposes of travel and tourist services. This ongoing proliferation of different initiatives shows a high degree of diversity in terms of scope, assessment methodologies and means and tools of communication. Although this proliferation reflects the vast variety of travel and tourist products and the complicated nature in assessing their environmental performance, these environmental instruments seem to suffer from a lack of integration and standardisation or quality control. This situation has the potential to confuse or even mislead travellers and the stakeholders within the industry. Research questions were: - What environmental instruments and initiatives are currently supporting the application of the European Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Action Plan in the travel and tourism industry? - What are their key characteristics and how do they stand in relation to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) principles? - How can these instruments be combined in a general framework capable to render this industry low carbon and more sustainable from an environmental point of view?
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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