Tourism causing carbon emissions to soar

Nearly half of all flights that people take to a tourist destination exceed an individual’s annual carbon mobility budget for all forms of transportation, finds a new study from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio have conducted a study examining how the flight routes people take to get to tourist destinations in the continental United States impact the amount of pollution in the air.

More specifically, the researchers wanted to know if non-stop routes to tourist destinations can mitigate air travel carbon emissions compared to routes that connect through large airline hubs.

They found that direct routes tended to have lower carbon emissions, with the difference between direct and connecting routes coming at roughly 100 carbon dioxide kg/person, or the equivalent of operating a refrigerator for an entire year. In addition, the majority of direct routes generated carbon emissions below the 575 carbon dioxide kg/person mobility cap.

Nonetheless, nearly half of the routes analyzed exceeded an individual’s annual mobility carbon budget for all forms of transportation.

The researchers hope that their study will help policymakers consider making new initiatives that accelerate technological innovations regarding aircraft fuel usage, jet engines and jet fuel. They also emphasized the importance of broader structural shifts, such as implementing realistic carbon pricing for air travel.

Image credit: Nathan Hobbs via Unsplash

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