‘No Season’ is the first chapter of a long term global project about tourism and climate change. Tourism and travel is a vital contributor to the global economy, and especially important for many developing countries. It is an effective way of redistributing wealth and a catalyst for gender equality, cultural preservation and nature conservation. As a result, the sector is also contributing to the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Climate change is one of the most serious threats to society, the economy and the environment, and has been an issue of international concern for decades. As climate defines the length and quality of tourism seasons, affects tourism operations and influences environmental conditions that both attract and deter visitors, the sector is considered to be highly climate sensitive. The effects of a changing climate will have considerable impacts on tourism and travel businesses.
But tourism and travel is also a vector of climate change. Recent evidence suggests that the sector’s contribution to global anthropogenic CO2 emissions is at just 5%, but it may be higher (from 5% to 14%) if measured as a radiative forcing, i.e. the warming caused by CO2 as well as other greenhouse gases (UNWTO-UNEP-WMO 2008). As this calculation only includes energy emissions, and does not consider the energy needed to construct hotels, airports, highways and runways, and to keep them working, it needs to be understood as conservative.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The tourism industry has a key role to play in confronting the challenges of climate change. Indeed there is now a clear understanding that the industry can be part of the solution to climate change, by reducing its green house gas emissions as well as by helping the communities where tourism represents a major economic source to prepare for and adapt to the changing climate”.
‘No Season’ is a challenge for me to visually break into the climate change/global warming debate as a way of focusing on industrial activities in terms of sustainability. I started with the mediterranean coast because the area is a tourist hot spot and, equally, because tourism is a vital contributor to the economies of the countries here. In Spain in particular, the controversial building of the swathes of tourist accommodation has been upstoppable for the last two decades and the madness of building entire cities to be used only a few weeks every years is so clearly visible. I shot all the main massive tourist hotspots along the mediterranean coast, from Costa Brava deep down to Andalusia in February, March, October and November, in the off season, in order not to risk to making another ‘Martin Parr’ kind of work. Next stop, Italy.