The paper first describes an inventory for 2005 giving the tourism related CO2 emission caused by global tourism, and presents a 30-year projection and a 45-year simulation. The study found that tourists cause 4.4% of global CO2 emissions. Also these emissions are projected to grow at an average rate of 3.2% per year up to 2035. This increase is problematic as globally a reduction of emissions by 3–6% is required to avoid ‘dangerous’ climate change. Using contemporary scenario techniques it appeared difficult to find a future tourist travel system consistent with CO2 emission reductions of up to 70% by 2050 with respect to 2005. Based on the model underlying the 30-year projection, 70 scenarios are presented in a ‘landscape’ graph exploring the effect of opportunities to reduce the emissions, but this attempt did not reach the large reductions envisaged. We therefore explored automated scenario generation as a way to define backcasting scenarios that both reach the emission reduction target and retain the highest possible economic value for the sector. The main contributions made by this study are (1) in comparing the value of different ways to approach a (desired) future and (2) giving insight into the kind of structural changes required within tourism and tourism transport in case very strong emission reductions are required. Finally the model showed signs of ‘complex’ behaviour.
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