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Assessing the carbon footprint of tourism businesses using environmentally extended input-output analysis

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Abstract

The tourism industry contributes eight percent to global carbon emissions, directly and indirectly. Indirect carbon emissions are often neglected because they are difficult to calculate. The traditional approach to calculating indirect emissions – Life Cycle Assessment – is expensive and requires an expert data analyst. We introduce an alternative approach, the Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis. We show how this approach – currently used at macro-level to estimate carbon emissions at national or regional level – can be applied to the business level using carbon emissions generated by one hotel room clean as an example. Our comparative analysis shows that Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis leads to similar results as Life Cycle Assessment, while being substantially cheaper and more user-friendly. Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis, we conclude, enables tourism businesses to estimate the indirect carbon emissions of their operations, which is the key to identifying target areas for improvement.

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This chapter discusses strengths and limitations of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) not by linear analysis but by elucidating limitations embedded in strengths. It elaborates perceived and real limitations in LCA methodology grouped by research need, inherent characteristic or modeling choice. So, LCA practice continues to suffer from variations in practice that can result in different LCA results. Some limitations, such as modeling missing impact indicators and making life cycle inventory more readily-available, will be addressed through continued research and development of the tool. Other modeling choice-related limitations, such as matching goal to approach setting a proper functional unit or appropriately scoping the assessment, need to be addressed through continued education and training to assist users in the proper application of the tool. Still other limitations in LCA practice would benefit by the development of harmonized guidance and global agreement by LCA practitioners and modelers. However, despite these variations, LCA offers a strong environmental tool in the way toward sustainability.
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The relationship between tourism growth and municipal solid waste (MSW) generation has been, until now, the subject of little research. This is puzzling since the tourism sector is an important MSW generator and, at the same time, is willing to avoid negative impacts from MSW mismanagement. This paper aims to provide tools for tourism and MSW management by assessing the effects of tourism volume, tourism quality and tourism specialization on MSW generation in the UE. This is done using the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) framework. The study considers a panel data for 32 European economies in the 1997-2010 periods. Empirical results support the EKC hypothesis for MSW and shows that northern countries tend to have lower income elasticity than less developed countries; furthermore, results confirm a non-linear and significant effect of tourism arrivals, expenditure per tourist and tourism specialization on MSW generation. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article
Increasingly, organizations are working to reduce the environmental footprint of their supply chains. The use of environmentally preferable purchasing criteria is one strategy organizations use to address this goal. However, evaluating the environmental performance of these criteria (e.g., recycled content, biodegradable, renewable, and so on) has remained elusive. Life cycle assessment (LCA) can measure the impact reduction potential of sourcing strategies. However, full process-based LCAs are time-consuming and costly across multiple criteria of thousands of products and inputs purchased in an organizational setting. A streamlined " hotspot " methodology is presented using a combination of environmentally extended economic input-output (EEIO) approaches and extant literature to identify hotspots in which to constrain a parameterized process-based LCA. A case study of breakfast cereal manufacturing is developed to (1) assess the efficiencies associated with the hotspotting approach and (2) demonstrate its applicability in generating comparable decision signals of environmentally preferable sourcing criteria for procurement and supply-chain managers along the dimensions of global warming potential and water use. Keywords: environmental performance measurement environmental procurement environmental strategy green supply chain management industrial ecology streamlined life cycle assessment (SLCA) Supporting information is available on the JIE Web site
Article
The accommodation sector is the most demanding energy consumer among all building stock categories. This study quantifies an international tourist hotel in Taiwan to holistically estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of hotel accommodation services through a complete life cycle inventory. The study also investigates the difference between the carbon emissions of the baseline and reduction years to understand the effects of carbon emission reduction on the hotel industry. Results show that energy consumption is the main source of carbon footprint. However, the carbon emissions of other activities, such as the production and transportation of hotel amenities and laundry services, are 15.90% for the baseline year and 16.03% for the reduction year. These values are larger than the 5% cutoff rule according to PAS 2050. Thus, these factors should also be considered in assessing the carbon emissions of accommodation services. Hotel occupancy rate significantly affects carbon emissions during a one-night stay in a standard room as the functional unit. The selection of the functional unit should be considered in the hotel strategy. Although this case study involves an international tourist hotel in Taiwan, the findings and recommendations for improvements can be applied elsewhere.
Article
Carbon footprint is becoming a widely used measure of an organization's contribution to climate change. However, despite a growing number of international standards and guidelines, there is still no consistent and widely agreed-upon methodology for assessment. The current practice of carbon footprint reporting in many industries is not well known and very ambiguous. This paper reports on a study of 150 of the largest hotel groups in the world to see how they assess and report their carbon footprints. The paper concludes that carbon footprint reporting in the hotel industry is scarce, and even for large companies calculations are unclear, not assured and not comparable.
Article
Many scholars have emphasized the importance of sustainability management in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Although various publications discuss different approaches and potential barriers of implementation, a review of the existing research on sustainability management tools for SMEs is nonetheless missing. Based on a systematic review of the academic literature, this paper discusses reasons why SMEs should implement sustainability management tools. A further analysis reveals that most such tools are perceived to have little to no implementation in SMEs. The main implementation barriers and facilitating criteria are discussed. In addition, implications for future research, SME management, and public policy are drawn.
Article
Farm-based tourism has a long tradition in Europe. Using farms to host tourists has become more widely seen as an effective means of supporting local economies and contributing to the preservation of landscapes and cultural heritage in the countryside. Furthermore, farm-based tourism is considered one of the most environmentally sustainable activities among touristic options. Nevertheless, the environmental sustainability of holiday farms still must be assessed. No applications of an environmental assessment method to touristic farms can be found in the literature. The only reference for such application is the PCR (Product Category Rule) basic module on “Accommodation, food and beverage services” developed for the Environmental Product Declaration system®. This document can be used as a reference for declarations for several hosting structures or catering services, nevertheless the performance of this module on touristic farms has not been validated yet.
Article
Given concerns over greenhouse gases and the role of tourism in generating such environmental externality, a consistent carbon measurement framework is needed. This paper combines principles derived from production and consumption accounting measures to better allocate the responsibility for carbon emissions. Utilizing a boundary that includes domestic tourism expenditure, inbound tourism expenditure, and local spending associated with outbound travel, this paper (a) proposes a framework to measure the domestic total carbon effect and foreign-sourced effect, and (b) applies the analytical framework to Taiwan. The empirical study indicates that the carbon emissions for domestic tourism industries, international aviation, and imports accounted for 47%, 28% and 25% of the tourism carbon footprint. It is suggested that an island's dependence on both aviation and international trade leads to a larger share of emissions outside their geographic territory with respect to tourism development.
Article
Purpose The aim of this work is to compare greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from producing tissue paper from virgin pulp (VP) or recycled waste paper (RWP). In doing so, the study aims to inform decision makers at both company and national levels which are the main causes of emissions and to suggest the actions required to reduce pollution. Methods An attributional life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed in order to estimate and compare the GHG emissions of the two processes. LCA allows us to assess how the choice of raw material for VP and RWP processes influences total GHG emissions of tissue paper production, what are the main drivers behind these emissions and how do the direct materials; energy requirements and transportation contribute to the generation of emissions. The cradle-to-gate approach is carried out. Results and discussion The results show that demands for both thermal energy and electricity are higher for the RWP than for the VP if only the manufacturing stages are considered. However, a different picture emerges when the analysis looks at the entire life cycle of the production. GHG from the VP are about 30 % higher than the RWP, over the life cycle emitting 568 kg CO2 eq more per kilogram of tissue paper. GHG emissions from the wood pulping alone were 559 g CO2 eq per kilogram of tissue paper, three times higher than waste paper collection and transportation. Conclusions In terms of GHG emissions from cradle to gate, the recycled process less intensive than the virgin one for two reasons. First, as shown in the results the total GHG emissions from RWP are lower than those from VP due to relatively lower energy and material requirements. Second is the non-recyclability nature of tissue paper. Because the tissue paper is the last use of fibre, using RWP as an input would be preferable over using VP. The environmental profile of the tissue products both from RWP and VP can be improved if the following conditions are considered by the company. First, the company should consider implementing a cogeneration unit to simultaneously generate both useful heat and electricity. Second, it may consider changing the VP mix, in order to avoid the emissions associated with long distance transpiration effort. Third, there is the option of using sludge as fuel, which would reduce the total fossil fuel requirement.
Article
2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biological Diversity. One of the goals of the international year was to gain a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss. This has not been achieved. Instead, biodiversity is continuing to decline at genetic, species and ecosystem levels while the ecological footprint of humanity exceeds the biological capacity of the Earth by a wider margin than at the time the 2010 target was agreed. Tourism is a factor in biodiversity loss and its conservation. The paper outlines some of the main themes in the relationship and stresses the importance of more research on tourism's role in extinction and habitat loss, biological invasion, climate change and biodiversity, and conservation strategies. The paper concludes that there is a need for a research effort on tourism and biodiversity similar to the rapidly developing interest in climate change.
Article
Most tourism-related activities require energy directly in the form of fossil fuels or indirectly in the form of electricity often generated from petroleum, coal or gas. This consumption leads to the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide. Tourism is not a traditional sector in the System of National Accounts and as a result no country possesses comprehensive national statistics on the energy demand or emissions specifically resulting from tourism. This paper suggests two approaches for accounting for carbon dioxide emissions from tourism: a bottom-up analysis involving industry and tourist analyses, and a top-down analysis using environmental accounting. Using the case study of New Zealand, we demonstrate that both approaches result in similar estimates of the degree to which tourism contributes to national carbon dioxide emissions. The bottom-up analysis provides detailed information on energy end-uses and the main drivers of carbon dioxide emissions. These results can be used for the development of targeted industry-based greenhouse gas reduction strategies. The top-down analysis allows assessment of tourism as a sector within the wider economy, for example with the purpose of comparing tourism’s eco-efficiency with other sectors, or the impact of macroeconomic instruments such as carbon charges.
Article
Summary A determination of the sustainability performance of a company ought to fulfill certain requirements. It has to take into account the direct impacts from on-site processes as well as indirect impacts embodied in the supply chains of a company. This life cycle thinking is the common theme of popular footprint analyses, such as carbon, ecological, or water footprinting. All these indicators can be incorporated into one common and consistent accounting and reporting scheme based on economic input−output analysis, extended with data from all three dimensions of sustainability. We introduce such a triple-bottom-line accounting framework and software tool and apply it in a case study of a small company in the United Kingdom. Results include absolute impacts and relative intensities of indicators and are put into perspective by a benchmark comparison with the economic sector to which the company belongs. Production layer decomposition and structural path analysis provide further valuable detail, identifying the amount and location of triple-bottom-line impacts in individual upstream supply chains. The concept of shared responsibility has been applied to avoid double-counting and noncomparability of results. Although in this work we employ a single-region model for the sake of illustration, we discuss how to extend our ideas to international supply chains. We discuss the limitations of the approach and the implications for corporate sustainability.
Article
As the dominant producers of industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, companies have a vital role to play in efforts to mitigate global warming. Focussing on scope 1 and 2 emissions alone can distort a firm’s GHG estimates as scope 3 emissions often constitute a significant part of its overall GHG footprint, up to seventy-five percent in many firms. Lack of knowledge of scope 3 emissions inhibits a firm’s ability to pursue the most cost-effective carbon mitigation strategies. This paper investigates the methods and data currently used by Australian organizations to assess their scope 3 emissions. The exploratory study found a wide discrepancy in the number of emission sources reported. In addition there was a general lack of rigour in determining which emission sources to include. This suggests that more comprehensive guidance on relevant emission sources by industry or sector would likely improve the completeness and relevance of inventories in accordance with The Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
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This paper reviews existing approaches to assessing tourism sustainability, especially its contribution to climate change. It assesses ecological footprint analysis, environmental impact assessment and input–output analysis but finds them inaccurate and unreliable. It goes on to argue that life cycle assessment (LCA) is a more promising tool for tourism climate change impact assessment, highlighting important areas where LCA application can contribute towards better understanding of tourism's role in global climatic changes. To demonstrate the applicability of the LCA methodology, a case study of a short weekend holiday trip is presented. Related greenhouse gas emissions are measured comparing LCA and alternative carbon footprint calculation methods. The comparison demonstrates markedly different results. The reasons for the discrepancy along with the potential of LCA to estimate the “indirect” carbon contribution of the holiday trip's components are discussed. A key feature of the LCA calculation is that for short-haul trips the proportional impact of accommodation-related emissions is shown to be larger than in earlier calculations, while transport impacts are reduced. : , (EFA), (EIA)(IOA)(LCA)LCALCA, LCA, LCALCA, ,
Article
Conventional process-analysis-type techniques for compiling life-cycle inventories suffer from a truncation error, which is caused by the omission of resource requirements or pollutant releases of higher-order upstream stages of the production process. The magnitude of this truncation error varies with the type of product or process considered, but can be on the order of 50%. One way to avoid such significant errors is to incorporate input-output analysis into the assessment framework, resulting in a hybrid life-cycle inventory method. Using Monte-Carlo simulations, it can be shown that uncertainties of input-output– based life-cycle assessments are often lower than truncation errors in even extensive, third-order process analyses.
Article
Background, aim, and scopeToday, the effective integration of life cycle thinking into existing business routines is argued to be the most critical step for more sustainable business models. The study tests the suitability of an input–output life cycle assessment (IO-LCA) approach in screening life cycle impacts of energy-using products in companies. It estimates the life cycle impacts of three products and assesses the suitability of such approach in a company environment. Materials and methodsThe multiple case studies evaluate the suitability of an IO-LCA method in a company environment. A comprehensive life cycle cost and impact study of three product systems (building ventilation system, information and communication technology (ICT) network product, and welding machine) is conducted and the life cycle phases with highest economical and environmental contribution are determined. Scenario analysis is performed in order to assess the sensitivity of the results to major changes in the studied systems. Finally, the usability of the IO-LCA approach for environmental evaluations in companies is assessed by collecting data on workload and interviewing the participating workers and managers. ResultsThe results showed that the use phase with operating energy was environmentally important in all evaluated energy-using products. However, only in one case (ICT network product) the use was the single most significant life cycle phase. In two other cases, the sourcing was equally important. The results also indicated that the IO-LCA approach is much easier to adapt by current management of companies because it automatically links life cycle costs to environmental indicators and, by order of magnitude, reduces the workload in companies. DiscussionIt appears that the IO-LCA approach can be used to screen environmentally significant life cycle phases of energy-using products in companies by utilizing readily available accounting or other documented data. The IO-LCA approach produced comparable results with the ones published in traditional process-based LCA literature. In addition to the main results, some practical benefits of using the IO-LCA could also be suggested: the approach was very fast to use and would thus allow an easier adoption of environmental evaluations in companies as well as wider environmental testing of products in early conceptual design phase. ConclusionsThe results indicated that the IO-LCA approach could clearly offer added value to the environmental management of companies. The IO-LCA was found to provide a very fast access to the key life cycle characteristics of products. Similarly, it offered practical means to integrate life cycle thinking into existing business routines and to activate the decision makers in companies by giving them easily comprehendible results. Recommendations and perspectivesThe results would suggest that similar environmental IO tables, besides the US ones used here, would have value and should be collected for other major geographical and economical regions. The tables would enable a much larger share of companies to manage their environmental issues. It also seems that, because the user profile is so dominant in the case of energy-using products, more studies, both theoretical (How to valuate the future behavior in environmental studies?) and empirical (What really creates value for users?), should focus on the behavior of users.
Article
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was carried out for milk production extending from the origin of the inputs to the agricultural step to the consumer phase and the waste management of the packaging. Three Norwegian dairies of different sizes and degree of automation were studied. The main objectives were to find any hot spots in the life cycle of milk, to determine the significance of the dairy size and degree of automation, and to study the influence of transport. The agriculture was found to be the main hot spot for almost all the environmental themes studied, although the dairy processing, packaging, consumer phase and waste management were also of importance. The consumer phase was the main contributor to photo-oxidant formation and important regarding eutrophication. The small dairy was found to have a greater environmental impact than the middle-sized and the largest dairies. The transport did not have any major influence.
Article
The goal of this study was to calculate the average CO2 emissions for manufacturing three commodity plastics, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Japan. The CO2 emissions were calculated from cradle to gate, excluding the calcination processes after use. As the results, the followings were observed: 1) The gross CO2 emissions for the manufacture of plastics in Japan were 1.3, 1.4, and 1.7 kg-CO2/kg-PE, PP, and PVC, respectively. These mainly reflected the difference of CO2 emissions for the in-house electricity generation. 2) The CO2 emissions for the electricity used for manufacturing PVC were higher than that used for PE and PP, because additional electricity was required for the electrolysis to produce chlorine. The gross electricity consumption for manufacturing PVC was 1.3 kWh/kg-PVC, and the other plastics consumed 0.5 kWh/kg-Products. In addition, the effects of energy saving were studied using a projected gas-diffusion electrode for the electrolysis of salt on the reduction of CO2 emissions. It was estimated that the reduction in CO2 emissions was 7% compared with the present PVC manufacturing processes.
Article
However excellent a product may be environmentally, it would not come into wide use in the economy to realize its environmental load reducing potential unless it is also economically affordable. Life-cycle costing (LCC) is a tool to assess the cost of a product over its entire life cycle, and can be regarded as an economic counterpart of LCA. A combined use of LCA and LCC would be imperative for assessing the sustainability of a product or product systems in the economy. This paper presents a new methodology of LCC which gives the cost and price counterpart of the hybrid LCA tool (Waste Input–Output, WIO) that was developed by Nakamura and Kondo (2002) [Nakamura, S., Kondo, Y., 2002. Input–output analysis of waste management. Journal of Industrial Ecology 6 (1), 39–63.] for LCA of waste management. Building upon the preceding LCA study by Kondo and Nakamura (2004) [Kondo, Y., Nakamura, S., 2004. Evaluating alternative life-cycle strategies for electrical appliances by the waste input–output model. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 9 (4), 236–246.], the applicability of the methodology is illustrated by a case study of electric appliances under alternative end-of-life scenarios: landfilling, intensive recycling that is consistent with the Japanese law on the recycling of appliances, and an advanced form of intensive recycling augmented by Design for Disassembly (DfD). Application of the proposed LCC methodology indicates that while the life-cycle cost is the highest under intensive recycling and the lowest under landfilling, the cost of recycling can be reduced by appropriate implementation of DfD. The possible introduction of a carbon tax is also found to significantly reduce the cost disadvantage of recycling against landfilling. Given the high level of environmental load associated with landfilling and the possible introduction of carbon taxes, Design for Environment or EcoDesign emerges as a strategy of vital importance to achieve the sustainability of appliances.
Article
The Sustainable Transport Energy Programme (STEP) is an initiative of the Government of Western Australia, to explore hydrogen fuel cell technology as an alternative to the existing diesel and natural gas public transit infrastructure in Perth. This project includes three buses manufactured by DaimlerChrysler with Ballard fuel cell power sources operating in regular service alongside the existing natural gas and diesel bus fleets. The life-cycle assessment (LCA) of the fuel cell bus trial in Perth determines the overall environmental footprint and energy demand by studying all phases of the complete transportation system, including the hydrogen infrastructure, bus manufacturing, operation, and end-of-life disposal. The LCAs of the existing diesel and natural gas transportation systems are developed in parallel. The findings show that the trial is competitive with the diesel and natural gas bus systems in terms of global warming potential and eutrophication. Emissions that contribute to acidification and photochemical ozone are greater for the fuel cell buses. Scenario analysis quantifies the improvements that can be expected in future generations of fuel cell vehicles and shows that a reduction of greater than 50% is achievable in the greenhouse gas, photochemical ozone creation and primary energy demand impact categories.