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Many discussions are occurring these days about the Green New Deal, Carbon Pricing, and Travel Carbon Emissions.  But, these terms are connected by one concept – payment.  We pay a social, economic or environmental price both privately and as a society for everything we do. 

We pay a social price to eat highly processed, non-local food and when we breathe polluted air.  Also, we pay an economic price to go on a beach vacation or buy a souvenir.  Lastly, we pay an environmental price to buy a new gas-powered car or purchase electricity from non-renewable sources.  Hence, the price is borne both by consumers and society.  The controversy arises over whether individuals or companies are bearing most of the price burden.

“The greatest market failure the world has ever seen is climate change. Those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gasses generally do not pay.” Sir Nicholas Stern, Former World Bank Chief Economist

No industry is untouched by these issues.  And, the travel industry is no different. But, who bears the social, economic, and environmental costs when travelers visit a destination?  

Why is Carbon (CO2) Emissions Such a Big Deal?

There is a great impact on our global climate with increased carbon emissions (greenhouse gases).  Note, peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.  Subsequently, there are increases in the severity and frequency of storms.  Storms lead to flooding and coastal community devastation.  Also, climate change leads to increased wildfires and droughts, which can affect the agricultural industry. 

Hence, even if you are living in an area that does not experience hurricanes, wildfires, or drought, you experience the impact of these changes.  For example, you are economically impacted if you build a home, use electricity and transportation, or shop for personal items.  In addition, economies are impacted by increased social costs.  In turn, your business or workplace customers will not buy your goods or services if they are facing increased personal costs.

Carbon emissions awareness is relevant to tourism because travelers arrive at destinations using some form of transportation.  Typically, transportation is responsible for 29% of US emissions.  Thankfully, bicycling, walking, taking a train or driving an electric vehicle (assuming a renewable energy source) may not add emissions.  But other modes, such as airplanes, gas-powered cars, and boats do add to carbon emissions.  Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of the transportation mode you use when traveling.  Alternatively, you could offset your carbon emissions.

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal is a Congressional resolution that tackles climate change in an equitable manner.  All things considered, it’s a potential framework spotlighting the social and economic changes needed in the US.  In short, it’s not a law and it doesn’t provide a full solution.  But, the framework inspires a strategic transformation of the US economy.

The Green New Deal changes the fundamental structure of the tourism industry.  For example, the US airline, transportation, food production, and hotel building industries are impacted.  Imagine if you could travel by battery-powered airplane to your destination.  Then, take a light-rail train to your LEED Certified Hotel to relax.  Later, rent a bike share to see the sites around town.  Finally, enjoy a meal with local, seasonal ingredients.  All the while, these actions benefit local businesses who are paying employees fair wages.   

How is this Different from Carbon Pricing?

Conversely, a carbon tax puts a direct price on carbon emissions.  First, companies pay for every ton of carbon pollution emitted. In turn, economic incentives are created to lower emissions.  For example, companies elect to switch manufacturing processes from renewable energy sources.  The resulting tax revenue is re-distributed as a rebate or to create new industries.  Fortunately, bipartisan carbon pricing legislation has been introduced in many US states.

Carbon pricing directly teaches visitors about the actions that contribute to carbon emissions.  Generally speaking, people change their lifestyles once they learn more about the impact of their travel habits.  Lifestyle changes can affect industries.  In turn, your sustainable lifestyle can change the world!

 

 

 

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