How Germany is leading the way for curbing emissions in Europe
A recent report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Saudi-based Sustainable Tourism Global Center highlights that Germany is leading the way for reducing absolute emissions in the travel industry
Germany has been identified by the WTTC as one of the few countries in Europe that is growing its travel and tourism sector, while being able to decrease the amount of absolute emissions used across the industry.
The tourism and travel sector reportedly made up 10.3% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in Germany in 2019. Improvement came in the following years. In 2020, the number was 5.9%, and in 2021 the number had decreased again to 5.8%.
In other words, every €1 that was made by Germany’s travel and tourism sector led to 0.55 kg of greenhouse gas emissions being produced. In 2019, every €1 that was made by Germany’s travel and tourism sector led to just 0.43kg being produced, a 22% decrease when compared to the figures from 2010.
The WTTC says that Germany was able to separate its use of greenhouse gas emissions from growing the travel and tourism sector, especially between the period running from 2010 until 2019. Greenhouse gas emissions fell by an average of 1.1% every year. On the other hand, the travel and tourism sector contributed 1.5% more to the economy year-on-year.
“Our data shows that Germany is one of the few Travel & Tourism powerhouses which is decreasing its absolute emissions whilst continuing to grow year-on-year,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO.
“The Travel & Tourism sector has decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions and continues to reduce its emissions intensity, but we know there is still work to be done. To reach our goals and ambitions, we must make bigger and bolder steps to reduce our absolute emissions.”
Germany’s emission-curbing credentials are similar to that of other European countries like Spain | Credit: Unsplash
How do Germany’s achievements compare to the rest of Europe?
Germany’s emission-curbing credentials are similar to that of other European countries like Spain. The country’s travel and tourism sector was also able to grow its GDP while being able to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced.
Spain’s travel and tourism sector made up 11% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. One year later, this figure dropped to 5% in 2020, with this attributed to the pandemic’s effect on the tourism and travel industry.
Between 2010 and 2019, Spain’s travel and tourism sector grew 2.3% every year. Unlike Germany, greenhouse gas emissions did not decrease, but increased marginally, by 0.9% per year during the same period. What it does show, WTTC claims, is that the sector’s “emissions intensity” is decreasing.
For every €1 generated by Spain’s travel and tourism sector in 2010, it produced 0.44kg of greenhouse gasses. Over the course of the decade, the amount of greenhouse gasses produced per euro decreased by 11.3% every year until 2019, when 0.39kg was produced for every €1 generated. Beyond the forecasted period this amount continued to decrease: 0.36kg in 2020 and 0.33kg in 2021.
“Spain’s Travel & Tourism sector has decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions and continues to reduce its emissions intensity, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done,” Ms Simpson said.
How energy is being used in travel and tourism
The report also outlines that the total energy usage for the travel and tourism industry increased slightly over the period between 2010 and 2019, rising by 0.2% on an annual basis. WTTC says this is proof of energy efficiency within the travel and trade sector, with energy intensity reportedly decreasing by 18.3% in between the years 2019 and 2021.