The sharing economy and sustainability – assessing Airbnb’s direct, indirect and induced carbon footprint in Sydney

A peer-to-peer sharing approach for the accommodation sector such as Airbnb has been suggested as a more environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional forms of accommodation services. This study evaluates the carbon footprint of Airbnb hosts in Sydney. The Airbnb platform and its hosts together generate direct and indirect carbon footprints in the range of 7.27 to 9.39 kg CO2e per room and night. The extra income of Airbnb hosts leads to additional, induced carbon footprints. By modelling four different scenarios, the induced carbon footprint of Airbnb hosts range from 3.84 to 602 kg CO2e/room-night. Findings challenge the prevalent notion provided by many previous studies that the sharing economy helps to use under-utilized resources, thus decreasing environmental impacts. This study contributes to peer-to-peer accommodation literature and to the widening public debate on the environmental sustainability of the sharing economy.

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