Tourists who visit Nepal cannot do so without emitting a significant amount of CO2. The resumption of tourism is therefore equivalent to restarting emissions. What options for the future?
The year 2020 will have been a disaster for Nepal’s tourist economy with the outright stopping of trekking and expeditions for many months. At the same time, this slowdown has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the regions most visited by tourists. Foremost among which is the Everest valley. During a traditional spring, the Nepalitimes recalls the impressive number of flights that travel through this region (link in English).
Thousands of tons of CO2 emitted in the Everest valley
The small Lukla airport receives 40 to 100 flights per day from the rest of the country, mainly from the capital. Each passenger emits the equivalent of 420 kg of CO2 for a Kathmandu-Lukla round trip. Less than 200 km as the crow flies, yet emissions worthy of a Paris-Barcelona flight. In question, the small planes used to reach the valley of Everest. In 2019, these domestic flights generated some 22,000 tonnes of CO2. In addition, there are emissions from the many helicopters that fly over the region. A study counted some 70 to 100 daily flights with this type of machine. For 4,000 tonnes of additional CO2.
Read also : Everest’s waste that has become a work of art will be exposed
When we add the carbon footprint of trips to reach Nepal, we understand the reflections currently being carried out to implement more sustainable tourism. The vast majority of tourists to Nepal coming from abroad, carrying out compensation projects on Nepalese soil is one track mentioned. Visitors would “offset” the greenhouse gas emissions of their trip by financially participating in local environmental projects. An approach that is obviously not relevant in the long term. Another avenue would be to develop domestic tourism, which is still in its infancy. These reflections, born at the heart of the covid-19 pandemic, will perhaps structure the next steps in Nepal’s tourism development. It would be a radical change of approach. Until then, the Nepalese authorities are emphasizing quantitative development: more and more tourists!
Illustrations © DR