A review of the IPCC Fifth Assessment and implications for tourism sector climate resilience and decarbonization
The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013–2014 was the most comprehensive analysis of anthropogenic climate change, its impacts, and potential responses. It concluded that climate change is “unequivocal” and human activities are the dominant cause. Avoidance of “dangerous” climate change will require sustained substantial reductions of emissions by mid-century and that net emissions decrease to zero before 2100. This paper describes, reviews and explains the place of tourism in AR5 and AR5's relevance for tourism's future, including impacts, adaptation, vulnerabilities, and mitigation. Tourism's position in AR5 has strengthened, particularly with respect to the recognition of transboundary impacts, the sector's contribution to climate change and its mitigation requirements. Major regional knowledge gaps persist. A lack of understanding of the integrated impacts of climate change and the effectiveness of adaptation strategies potentially hinders the development of resilient tourism operations and destinations. Uncertainties regarding tourist response to climate change impacts and mitigation policy impede predictions of tourism demand. The implications of different decarbonization pathways for the future of international tourism represent a key knowledge gap. The limited response of key tourism organizations to AR5 contributes to the risks climate change poses to the sector.