A critical review of methods for tourism climate change appraisal: life cycle assessment as a new approach

Viachaslau Filimonav, Janet Dickinson, Derek Robbins, Maharaj Vijay Reddy

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47 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews existing approaches to assessing tourism sustainability, especially its contribution to climate change. It assesses ecological footprint analysis, environmental impact assessment and input–output analysis but finds them inaccurate and unreliable. It goes on to argue that life cycle assessment (LCA) is a more promising tool for tourism climate change impact assessment, highlighting important areas where LCA application can contribute towards better understanding of tourism's role in global climatic changes. To demonstrate the applicability of the LCA methodology, a case study of a short weekend holiday trip is presented. Related greenhouse gas emissions are measured comparing LCA and alternative carbon footprint calculation methods. The comparison demonstrates markedly different results. The reasons for the discrepancy along with the potential of LCA to estimate the “indirect” carbon contribution of the holiday trip's components are discussed. A key feature of the LCA calculation is that for short-haul trips the proportional impact of accommodation-related emissions is shown to be larger than in earlier calculations, while transport impacts are reduced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-324
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number3
Early online date6 Feb 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • sustainability assessment
  • carbon footprint analysis
  • life cycle assessment
  • climate change
  • holiday package


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