Contribution of tourism development to climate change and livelihood of local people in Greenland

by Kalle Nordling, Joel Owona, Martina Ravn, Frederik Siegstad and Joula Siponen

Tourism and air transport are among the sectors that contribute to climate change through construction of new infrastructure and direct emission from the aircraft engines. Aviation accounts for around 2% of world’s GHG emissions, however much of the current analysis and policies continued to ignore the sectors. Arctic countries such as Greenland and Iceland depend heavily on air transport. Available data from Visit Greenland show that tourists comprised a total of 64 % of all passengers flying in and out of the Greenland in 2016. This could be compared to Iceland ten years a go.

New technologies could help in reduction of aviation emissions; however, this needs to be developed. Our group investigated how increased tourism and aviation emissions contribute to climate change and the livelihood of local people in Greenland compared to Iceland. A number of local people from Nuuk were interviewed and our findings indicate that there is high potential of tourism development in Greenland. We also discovered that there is an exponential growth in tourism in Iceland since 2010 after volcanic eruption. These growth comes with some challenges which include infrastructural expansion, cultural issues and ecological sites destruction.

Greenland is therefore encouraged to collaborate with Iceland to learn from their experiences.

See animation in the link below to learn what we experienced during our visit in Nuuk and Iceland.



Aviation emissions rates in Iceland – Google Search. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2018, from…7677.10438.0.13649.….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.P2tvnCMtUZY

International Civil Aviation Organisation (2016). The World of Air Transport). (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2018, from

NIR Iceland 2017 submission May resub.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Sharp, H., Grundius, J., & Heinonen, J. (2016). Carbon Footprint of Inbound Tourism to Iceland: A Consumption-Based Life-Cycle Assessment including Direct and Indirect Emissions. Sustainability, 8(11), 1147.

Tourism Report Arctic Circle 2016.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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