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Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1147; doi:10.3390/su8111147

Carbon Footprint of Inbound Tourism to Iceland: A Consumption-Based Life-Cycle Assessment including Direct and Indirect Emissions

Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, Hjardarhagi 2-6, 107 Reykjavík, Iceland
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Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 25 June 2016 / Revised: 31 October 2016 / Accepted: 1 November 2016 / Published: 8 November 2016
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Abstract

The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by tourism have been studied from several perspectives, but few studies exist that include all direct and indirect emissions, particularly those from aviation. In this study, an input/output-based hybrid life-cycle assessment (LCA) method is developed to assess the consumption-based carbon footprint of the average tourist including direct and indirect emissions. The total inbound tourism-related GHG emissions are also calculated within a certain region. As a demonstration of the method, the full carbon footprint of an average tourist is assessed as well as the total GHG emissions induced by tourism to Iceland over the period of 2010–2015, with the presented approach applicable in other contexts as well. Iceland provides an interesting case due to three features: (1) the tourism sector in Iceland is the fastest-growing industry in the country with an annual growth rate of over 20% over the past five years; (2) almost all tourists arrive by air; and (3) the country has an almost emissions-free energy industry and an import-dominated economy, which emphasise the role of the indirect emissions. According to the assessment, the carbon footprint for the average tourist is 1.35 tons of CO2-eq, but ranges from 1.1 to 3.2 tons of CO2-eq depending on the distance travelled by air. Furthermore, this footprint is increasing due to the rise in average flight distances travelled to reach the country. The total GHG emissions caused by tourism in Iceland have tripled from approximately 600,000 tons of CO2-eq in 2010 to 1,800,000 tons in 2015. Aviation accounts for 50%–82% of this impact (depending on the flight distance) underlining the importance of air travel, especially as tourism-related aviation is forecasted to grow significantly in the near future. From a method perspective, the carbon footprinting application presented in the study would seem to provide an efficient way to study both the direct and indirect emissions and to provide new insights and information to enable the development of appropriate GHG mitigation policies in the tourism sector. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon footprint; greenhouse gas; life-cycle assessment; input-output; tourism; transport; aviation carbon footprint; greenhouse gas; life-cycle assessment; input-output; tourism; transport; aviation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sharp, H.; Grundius, J.; Heinonen, J. Carbon Footprint of Inbound Tourism to Iceland: A Consumption-Based Life-Cycle Assessment including Direct and Indirect Emissions. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1147.

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