Reviewing the carbon footprint assessment of tourism: developing and evaluating life cycle assessment (LCA) to introduce a more holistic approach to existing methodologies.

Filimonau, V., 2011. Reviewing the carbon footprint assessment of tourism: developing and evaluating life cycle assessment (LCA) to introduce a more holistic approach to existing methodologies. Doctorate Thesis (Doctorate). Bournemouth University.

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Abstract

It is universally recognised that, globally, the tourism industry is a noticeable contributor to the carbon footprint. The magnitudes of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from specific tourism products and services at local levels are less established and large variations in estimates exist. Diversity of the tourism sector, constraints in data procurement and under-development of methods for tourism carbon impact appraisal are the primary reasons. These hinder accurate evaluations and hamper development of reliable carbon performance indicators, thus making direct comparisons between tourism products and services difficult. The issue of the ‘indirect’ carbon impacts, additional carbon requirements from the nonuse phases of a product or service life cycle, which can be further magnified by the supply chain, is of special concern. These carbon footprints have never been comprehensively assessed in tourism, especially at the level of specific products and services. The evidence from the non-tourism literature suggests that the ‘indirect’ carbon impacts from tourism-related activities can be high, thus calling for more indepth research on this issue. The aim of this study is to contribute to the development of reliable carbon footprint assessment methodologies in tourism. It proposes an approach for more holistic estimates of GHG emissions from tourism products and services and appraises the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method whose merit in estimating the ‘indirect’ carbon impacts is broadly recognised. The evidence of the application of LCA in tourism is limited. To test the viability of a new technique in the tourism context, the study employs a case study approach and applies a simplified derivative of LCA, Life Cycle Energy Analysis (LCEA), to assess the carbon footprint from a popular tourism product, a holiday package tour. LCEA is compared against existing methodological alternatives for estimating carbon footprints from holiday travel. This is to understand strengths and weaknesses in the LCA (LCEA) approach, to critically evaluate the new technique compared to the alternatives, and to identify the most accurate and cost-effective method for holistic assessment. The assessment results demonstrate the importance of the ‘indirect’ GHG emissions in tourism. The findings also show that, despite the new outlook it brings to tourism carbon footprint appraisal, LCEA cannot effectively capture the full range of carbon impacts. This is because a number of methodological inconsistencies affect the accuracy of estimates. As limitations are also typical for the more established methodological alternatives, a new, hybrid LCEA-related assessment approach is developed. It is argued that this hybrid method can address the identified methodological shortcomings, thus representing currently the most rigorous technique for carbon impact appraisal in tourism. This study does more than reinforcing the methodological base for tourism carbon footprint assessment by developing a new method. It provides recommendations on how to improve the general quality and enhance the reliability of LCA (LCEA) for application in other industries where it has a long-standing tradition of use. Directions are also proposed on how to refine collection of the input data for carbon footprint assessment in tourism, in order to obtain more accurate results and reduce uncertainty in estimates. Last but not least, suggestions are made on how to integrate more carbon-effective practices in the design of specific tourism products and services.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctorate)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Subjects:Social Sciences > Tourism
Group:School of Tourism
ID Code:18839
Deposited By:Mrs Jill Burns
Deposited On:10 Nov 2011 14:29
Last Modified:07 Mar 2013 15:50

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