The environmental impact of European tourism

If the EU is to meet its climate change targets, it’s essential that it looks at all aspects in order to move towards a cleaner economy.

In light of this, up to 26 European cities have made a commitment to improving their waste management strategies to make tourism more sustainable.

The tourism industry and climate change are closely connected. It’s also connected to other important sectors, including food and culture. Therefore, the EU believes that taking a collective approach is key to trying to tackle the problem.

Tourism is also a major contributor to environmental damage. It is associated with greater waste generation, more water and energy consumption, increased transport usage and a higher demand for new infrastructure.

During a conference for the Urban Waste project, which is dedicated to achieving better waste management in cities, project manager Michelle Perello explained: “Tourism has an important socio-economic impact but also negative consequences due to unsustainable consumption.”

With the UN climate summit approaching, the EU is looking for ways to reduce environmental damage, especially if it’s going to meet its target, as set out in the Paris Agreement, to limit temperature increases to below 2 degrees celsius.

Urban Waste hopes that, by assisting policymakers, it can answer some of the challenges being faced due to high levels of tourism in some European cities, which is leading to levels of consumption and waste production that it says aren’t sustainable.

In particular, dealing with the increasing level of waste is a major challenge for regional authorities in Europe. Especially as, in some cities, the level of waste produced by tourism is higher than that of residents, particularly during events like sports matches and music concerts.

This project aims to develop new strategies for these cities, towns, and regions. It plans to find solutions to the environmental impact of higher levels of tourism, in order to “honour all those local and regional authorities who decided to go beyond conventional. Who can be considered as frontrunners in making tourism more sustainable.”

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