The research for Tourrisk was much focused on WP1, the assessment of carbon emissions in Norway, as a basis for much of the other research that we will carry out over the next years. As outlined in the proposal, the approach focused on a longitudinal input/output analysis that considers both emissions of greenhouse gases as well as revenue generation. The data is used to derive scenarios for decarbonisation. The work, which was carried out in coordination with Statistics Norway, yielded a number of insights of relevance for tourism and, unexpectedly, for national decarbonisation goals.
The study, which cover 12 years from 2007-2019, finds that the carbon intensity of tourism (emissions per NOK) is more than twice the Norwegian average. The main issue is aviation, which generates 17% of national tourism revenue, but 75% of direct emissions of CO2. Notably, aviation emissions per NOK of revenue have increased by 4.2% per year. By 2030, tourism will be the largest emission sub-sector of the Norway economy, as the sector increases in absolute emissions by 3.2% per year. This will mean that Norway will not meet its decarbonisation commitments, as the decarbonisation rate is too slow.
While Norway has made considerable progress on decarbonisation per unit of economic value, the speed of decarbonisation is only -0.2% per year, as the economic continues to grow. Norway will not meet its interim goal of reducing emissions by at least 50% by 2030, compared to 1990. To decarbonise by 90% by 2050 compared to 2019, the speed of decarbonisation would have to be more than 30 times greater, if observed passed growth rates are maintained. While originally focused on tourism, the study thus has provided very relevant insights on the economy/environment nexus, and in particular the importance of growth in contradicting decarbonisation efforts.
Norway has committed to becoming a low-carbon country within three decades. To achieve this goal, significant reductions in emissions are required throughout all sectors of the national economy. Tourism is a key industry that is expected to make a growing contribution to the national economy, specifically in the ‘post oil’ era; yet, it is also a sector requiring large amounts of energy. This proposal focuses on the challenge of decarbonization within a growth economy. The theoretical framework is "risk". National and international policy frameworks for low-carbon economies represent CARBON RISKS, because decarbonization is potentially costly (introduction of new technologies), or designed to reduce consumption (taxation of CO2) and hence likely to affect travel flows. The sector also faces CLIMATE CHANGE RISKS that remain uncertain at the regional and country scale. These include impacts that deter international tourists from coming to Norway because of the loss of assets (such as snow) or extreme weather events. Because tourism is characterized by strong global interconnectedness, the consequences of climate change and associated mitigation & adaptation responses in other countries can also have important implications for tourism in Norway.
Against this background, the proposal will investigate pathways towards a resilient low-carbon, high-value tourism model for Norway. Its main objective is to identify policies that will guide the transformation towards a low-carbon tourism system. These policies need to be designed in a way that will ensure that economic turnover and employment are maintained and developed towards a year-around, high-value tourism economy that is also resilient in its market mix under scenarios of climate change and global decarbonisation.