Tourism and recreation – Mitigation


In a world that still idolizes travelling to far-away countries, tourism is a notable cause of greenhouse gas emissions. With respect to municipalities, the situation is somewhat contradictory: on the other hand, tourism directed at municipalities should be promoted, while travelling should be restricted due to high emissions. Finnish tourism should therefore be directed more to the areas close by or at least staying within Finland. The key element is to avoid unnecessary travelling by plane.

Mitigation of climate change and tourism and recreation

Both in Finland and elsewhere in the world, tourism is a notable source of greenhouse gas emissions. The greatest emissions in domestic tourism by Finns are caused by private vehicles and, in travelling abroad, by planes. To achieve national and international climate goals, both of these must be strongly reduced in the future years. For example, the emissions caused by a trip to Thailand correspond to those caused by the consumption of electricity and heat in a family of four during four and half years.

On a global scale, the impact of tourism on global warming ranges from three to five per cent. In wealthy countries, the number is much higher: tourism causes ten even 20 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Contradiction between promotion of tourism and mitigation

Since municipalities concurrently strive to both promote the tourism attractions of their municipality and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, in most cases, the situation is contradictory for municipalities. Usually, the more a municipality attracts tourists, the higher are the calculatory emissions in the municipality's area. Exceptions are areas with excellent railway and bus connections.

Prefer travelling in Finland!

Reducing climate damage caused by tourism is based mainly on reducing travelling abroad (flying) and replacing it with domestic travelling. By developing environmentally friendly nature travelling, such as camping, hiking and boating, municipalities can reduce the climate emissions caused by tourism for their part. Growing numbers of tourists can be attracted to the area by innovatively emphasising local culture and traditions.

However, municipalities have limited resources, so the tourists themselves play the key role. The selections they make have the greatest significance on the emissions: will I travel abroad or stay in Finland, will I drive to the other side of Finland or, for a change, enjoy the sceneries in the neighbouring provinces, will I scurry to packed adventure parks or relax on my own or rented summer cottage. With respect to the environment, the most significant change is the consumer's attitude.

In tourism, adaptation view prevails

Tourism and climate change are mostly approached from an adaptation view: how will the warming climate affect the possibilities of tourism on various sides of Finland in the future. However, it would be just as essential to emphasise how a change in travelling habits can mitigate climate change. In such a case, the worst threatening scenarios of the future might not need to be prepared for. As a part of good climate change culture, consumers should be taught good travelling culture. In the future, travelling culture favouring the nearby areas could be as natural and obvious as nowadays is fastening your seatbelt in the car.