Climate Change: Implications for Tourism

A new briefing published by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and the Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) distils the key findings from the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report for the tourism sector.

The briefing concludes that:


  • The sector is exposed to numerous direct and indirect impacts from climate change. Sea-level rise and more acidic oceans will threaten coastal tourism infrastructure and natural attractions. Rising temperatures will shorten winter sport seasons and threaten the viability of some ski resorts. Climate change will lead to changes in biodiversity, affecting eco-tourism.
  • Adaptation options exist, but many are likely to add costs and offer only short-term relief. Locations at risk can invest in more resilient infrastructure. However, under scenarios that see high emissions, and higher temperatures, questions exist as to whether adaptation is possible at all.
  • The contribution of tourism to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is rising, and are projected to grow 130% between 2005 and 2035.
  • There is considerable uncertainty about how tourists will respond to the effects of climate change. Academic research provides much detail on likely impacts, and on possible changes in tourism demand. These changes are likely to create opportunities at both the destination and business level.

Tourism_CoverThe Tourism summary is one of a series of thirteen, based upon The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

AR5 represents the most comprehensive overview of climate science to date and is the fact base that will utilised by governments and businesses to formulate climate policy in the coming years. The set of summaries cover the broad implications of climate change, how the IPCCC works and give an overview of the physical science, as well as adaptation and mitigation options. The summaries, in addition to tourism, cover the energy sector, investors and financial institutions, the transport sector, the agriculture industry, defence, fisheries and aquaculture, the building sector, primary industries, cities and employment.

This publication has been developed and released by CISL, CJBS and ECF.

For more information and to download the report, please visit the CISL webpage.

Direct download:
AR5 Tourism Briefing
AR5 Tourism Infographic