Summer is almost here, you are thinking about your holiday destination, beach or mountain, train or plane? But what about the carbon footprint of your trip? How can you make choices that have the least impact on the planet and still enjoy your holiday? That's what we'll look at together in this article. 👇
As a reminder, tourism is responsible for 8% of the world's carbon emissions, as revealed by a study carried out by the University of Sydney, Australia, and directed by Manfred Lenzen (1). These emissions are due to transport, of course, but also to catering, hotels, waste and various purchases made by travellers. Every choice we make has an impact on our carbon footprint, in every area. That's why, with a little knowledge, it is possible to put in place actions to limit our impact. But before we can provide you with this valuable information, it is essential to understand which items are responsible for our summer emissions.
What are the main emissions from holidays?
It is common to want to discover other regions of France or even the world during the summer, but this change of scenery is not without consequences for the planet.
Indeed, transport generates more than three quarters of the emissions from tourism (2). Unsurprisingly, air travel is the mode of transport with the highest emissions. Indeed, the distances travelled by air are much greater than by car or train, which increases the carbon impact of air travel.
If you want to travel long distances, the train remains the best option. With an emission factor more than 4 times lower than a plane (compared to a short-haul plane) and more than 3 times lower than a car (compared to the average value), it is one of the least carbon-intensive means of transport.
So before you leave you can choose a more environmentally friendly mode of transport, but the choices you make during your journey are also important.
The ADEME (Agency for Ecological Transition) tells us that the purchase of goods and catering account for 13% of carbon emissions from tourism.
This shows that the behaviour of tourists on site has a real impact on their total carbon footprint.
For example, an average meal in a restaurant is more emissive than a meal at home, as people tend to consume more than usual (in quantity) and also increase the quantity of meat products consumed.
Accommodation is one of the emissions items that we do not know about, but which represents 7% of tourism emissions.
Energy consumption, the purchase of intermediate products and the initial construction of buildings explain why accommodation is the third most emitting sector.
Knowing this, we may be tempted to ask ourselves if it is still possible to go on holiday while emitting little greenhouse gases? Of course it is! There are many good practices to put in place before or during your trip, we tell you everything in the rest of this article.
But first of all, do you really know the carbon footprint of your holiday? No ?! Take the test by answering our questionnaire which gives you a good idea of the carbon weight of your holiday.
So what is your carbon impact? Whatever your score (almost) everyone can reduce their carbon impact further, so here are some good practices to put in place before or during your trip!
What are the best practices to adopt?
To limit the total distance travelled, choose destinations close to your home. Why not go and discover, or rediscover, a region of France. France is full of diverse and varied landscapes where you can recharge your batteries, work out or discover new activities.
To name just a few regions in France, the Ardèche or the Basque Country are magnificent destinations that are full of all kinds of activities.
the Ardèche: https: //www.ardeche-guide.com
The Basque Country: https: //www.en-pays-basque.fr
Long live the train
If you still want to go on holiday abroad, especially in Europe, you should take the train, which emits far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than, for example, flying or driving.
Moreover, if you choose to travel during the day, you will be able to enjoy the scenery throughout the journey and if you choose to travel at night, what could be more exotic than waking up in a country different from the one you went to sleep in?
Optimise your car journeys
The car is one of the most carbon-intensive means of transport, so it is best to avoid using it when you go on holiday. However, if you still have to use it, there are a few good practices you can follow to reduce its carbon impact:
- First of all, connect with carpoolers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per passenger. Platforms like Blablacar make it easy and efficient to find temporary passengers.
- Reduce the amount of stuff you carry as more weight will increase your fuel consumption.
- Inflate your tyres to increase your vehicle's efficiency and reduce your fuel consumption.
Reduce your consumption of meat products
Did you know that, on average, a meal dominated by beef emits 14 times more greenhouse gases than a vegetarian meal? This difference is explained by the large amount of greenhouse gases (especially methane) emitted by cows during the rearing process.
Drastically reducing your meat consumption, and especially your beef consumption, can therefore greatly reduce your greenhouse gas footprint.
In order to maintain a balanced diet you can turn to vegetable proteins such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, etc., which are less harmful to the environment.
Reduce the number of meals in restaurants
As mentioned earlier, a meal in a restaurant is, on average, more carbon intensive than a meal cooked at home. To reduce your carbon footprint, limit the number of meals you eat out and spend some time behind the stove cooking delicious home-cooked meals.
Opt for a labelled accommodation
Accommodation accounts for 7% of carbon emissions from tourism. In order to limit this impact, you can turn to eco-responsible accommodation that takes into account not only the construction but also the daily management of these spaces in their rating. This is a good way to limit the weight of accommodation in the carbon footprint of your holiday.
Among the ecolabels recommended by the ADEME, we can find, among others
- Eco gite
- Green globe
- Or Gîte panda
You can also turn to booking platforms that specialise in eco-friendly accommodation such as Vaovert(https://www.vaovert.fr).
Reduce the amount of souvenir "trinkets" purchased
When we go on holiday we often want to bring back souvenirs, but we should bear in mind that every object we buy has emitted and will emit greenhouse gases, whether it be for its design, its transport or its end-of-life as waste. It is therefore more sensible to limit your purchases of trinkets and other holiday souvenirs.
NB: shells and other elements of nature are not souvenirs you can take home either. Indeed, this practice is punishable by fine as it weakens the coastline (put the link of the public service), which is also detrimental to the planet.
Further information: https: //www.service-public.fr/particuliers/actualites/A13550
You now have all the tools you need to reduce the carbon footprint of your travels and make your summer holidays kind to the planet!
(1): https: //www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0141-x.epdf?sharing_token=wnXr_1-63osmSZRIVqPebNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0OWchRe3LnakvyDKR-guL4qloEQgdwp_vyK5UVXF3yYTx9TGy_o9lf9TpG7m3hRw-gxiWr4-02Q6YM1p6Nrw72I6TefoAtb53cX1fUY3z6p-DSJDaJV8gU4N5nYGbZToaKScpNw2THsgGf507ssDBmy-G5kkxNz7qpCpR0kGb_iGQ%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.lemonde.fr
(2): https: //presse.ademe.fr/2021/06/le-tourisme-durable-en-france-un-levier-de-relance-ecologique.html