chapter  4
15 Pages

Climate Change and Polar Bear Viewing: A case study of visitor demand, carbon emissions and mitigation in Churchill, Canada


Introduction Climate change represents one of the most signifi cant challenges to humanity in the 21st century and is anticipated to have profound consequences for the highly climate-sensitive tourism sector (UNWTO-UNEP 2008). Because polar regions are expected to exhibit the fi rst signs of environmental change associated with a warming climate (IPCC 2007), tourism destinations in these regions are thought to be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Global average temperature increased by 0.74°C between 1906 and 2005 (IPCC 2007), while Arctic regions are experiencing the most dramatic changes in climate (ACIA 2004; Overpeck et al. 2005; Bonsal and Prowse 2006; Richter-Menge et al. 2006; Furgal and Prowse 2008), with temperatures increasing at almost twice the rate of the global average (ACIA 2004; IPCC 2007). Between 1950 and 1998 mean annual temperature trends showed warming of 1.5 to 2°C in the western Canadian Arctic, 0.5°C in the central Canadian Arctic and cooling in the extreme northeast. More recent trends show warming across the entire Canadian Arctic, which is strongest in the winter and spring seasons (Furgal and Prowse 2008).