Resources and Environment

An estimation of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in tourism sector of China

  • 1. China Tourism Academy, Beijing 100005, China;
    2. Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China

Received date: 2011-03-22

  Revised date: 2011-04-20

  Online published: 2011-08-05

Supported by

The Key Project of China National Tourism Administration, No.10TAAK007


In 2009, nearly 900 million international tourist arrivals were counted worldwide. A global activity of this scale can be assumed to have a substantial impact on the environment. In this contribution, five major aspects such as the change of LUCC and the use of energy and its associated impacts had been recognized. Recently, the impact of tourism on environment and climate attracts the attention of international organizations and societies in pace with rapid development of tourism industry. Energy consumption and CO2 emissions in tourism sector are becoming a hot spot of international tourism research in recent five years. The use of energy for tourism can be divided according to transport-related purposes (travel to, from and at the destination) and destination-related purposes excluding transports (accommodation, food, tourist activities, etc.). In addition, the transports, accommodation and foods are related to many other industries which are dependent on energy. Thus, the estimations of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in tourism sector have become a worldwide concern. Tourism in China grows rapidly, and the number of domestic tourists was 1902 million in 2009. Energy use and its impact on the environment increase synchronously with China's tourism. It is necessary to examine the relationship between energy use and CO2 emissions. In this article, a preliminary attempt was applied to estimate the energy consumption and CO2 emissions from China's tourism sector in 2008. Bottom-up approach, literature research and mathematical statistics technology were also adopted. According to the calculations, Chinese tourism-related may have consumed approximately 428.30 PJ of energy in 2008, or about 0.51% of the total energy consumptions in China. It is estimated that CO2 emissions from tourism sector amounted to 51.34 Mt, accounting for 0.86% of the total in China. The results show that tourism is a low-carbon industry and also a pillar industry coping with global climate change, energy-saving and CO2 emission reduction. Based on this, the authors suggested that tourism should become an important field in low-carbon economic development.

Cite this article

WU Pu, SHI Peihua . An estimation of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in tourism sector of China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2011 , 21(4) : 733 -745 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-011-0876-z