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Global Environmental Change
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/gloenvcha

What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse
Martina Tyrrell a,*, Douglas A. Clark b,1
a b

Department of Geography, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4RJ, United Kingdom School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, 117 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5C8, Canada

A R T I C L E I N F O

A B S T R A C T

Article history: Received 23 July 2013 Received in revised form 27 October 2013 Accepted 13 November 2013 Keywords: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conservation Hunting Inuit Media Polar bears

In the past decade, polar bears have become the poster species of climate change. But in March 2013, a joint proposal by the governments of the United States and the Russian Federation to up-list polar bears to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) diverted public attention from climate change towards the hunting of polar bears. Prior to a vote on the proposal, non-governmental organisations spear-headed a media campaign to support the uplisting. In the United Kingdom the campaign received support from celebrities and was widely reported in English language news media. Narratives of commercial legal and illegal polar bear hunting and the imminent extinction of polar bears were aggressively promoted, rhetorically supported by the manipulation of trade and scientific data. By rendering discourses of commercial hunting and a lucrative global trade in polar bear parts highly visible, sustainable hunting and climate change-induced habitat loss were rendered invisible. Media reports of commercial hunting de-coupled polar bear conservation from climate change mitigation, and disassociated polar bear hunting from regulated indigenous subsistence practices. A review of current polar bear conservation measures and an analysis of media coverage leading up to the CITES decision reveal these conflicting discourses, and suggest that more nuanced media coverage of polar bear conservation is necessary if appropriate multilateral conservation policies are to be enacted and publicly supported. ß 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction In March 2013 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held its 16th triennial meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP16) in Bangkok. On the extensive agenda was a proposal by the governments of the United States and the Russian Federation, to upgrade the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) CITES listing from Appendix II to Appendix I. An up-listing would outlaw international commercial trade in polar bears and polar bear parts. In 2010, at CoP15 in Doha, a similar US proposal was defeated. A veto by the EU voting bloc was seen by some as instrumental in that earlier defeat (Humane Society International (UK) website). In advance of CoP16, the civil society animal welfare group Humane Society International (UK), backed by partner organisations in the Species Survival Network (an

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 01392 725807. E-mail addresses: m.a.tyrrell@exeter.ac.uk (M. Tyrrell), d.clark@usask.ca (D.A. Clark). 1 Tel.: +1 306 966 5405. 0959-3780/$ – see front matter ß 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

umbrella organisation that coordinates the activities of environmental and animal welfare organisations) enlisted the support of British celebrities, and undertook a public campaign to encourage the UK Wildlife Minister to support the US–Russia proposal, and to lobby his EU counterparts to do likewise. The CITES meeting, the proposed up-listing, the perceived role and duty of nation states in polar bear conservation, and the Humane Society International (UK) campaign were widely reported in global English language news media. Between January and March 2013, Humane Society International (UK) and its partner organisations made use of various media to highlight particular narratives of human-polar bear relations, and of polar bear conservation discourses. Scientific, government and trade data were manipulated to construct narratives of polar bear hunting that highlighted discourses of extinction and lucrative commercial polar bear hunting. Through an emphasis on this joint rhetoric, polar bear conservation was, temporarily at least, decoupled from climate change-induced habitat degradation and polar bear hunting disassociated from indigenous subsistence practices. As Boykoff (2008, p. 550) writes, ‘examining news media representations and texts. . .provides

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

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opportunities to interrogate how particular narratives are translated, and how they make (in)visible certain discourses’. By emphasising discourses of commercialism, conservation concerns linked to habitat degradation, and on-going adaptive management practices, were rendered invisible. The purpose of this paper is todescribe and analyse the remarkable reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse that took place, in English-language media in early 2013. To set sufficient context, we first summarise current polar bear conservation legislation and policy instruments, then examine conservation and hunting practices, with a specific emphasis on Canada. We then analyse English-language newspapers and civil society animal welfare websites covering the proposed CITES up-listing. Our interpretation of those sources finds that, in focusing on global commercial trade, media coverage drew attention away from the relationship between polar bears and climate change to a remarkable degree, and distorted the welldocumented realities of managed polar bear hunting. Such a systematic diversion of public and institutional attention has significant potential to affect on-going polar bear conservation efforts, and is likely not to the benefit of the species. 2. Context 2.1. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species CITES is an international multilateral agreement to monitor and legislate on the international trade in wild species of fauna and flora. Drafted in 1963 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Convention came into force in 1975. CITES currently has 178 member state Parties, legally bound to implement the Convention. The Parties meet every three years to, inter alia, vote on proposals submitted by member Parties regarding amendments to the protection status of species (CITES website). Species protected by CITES are listed in three appendices to the Convention. Appendix III species are protected in at least one state, but other Parties assist in controlling trade. Strict biological and trade criteria are in place to determine whether species are listed as Appendix I or II. Appendix II species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but trade is controlled in order to ‘avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival’ (CITES website). Appendix II species require state-issued export permits, but import permits are required only at the discretion of the importing state. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction, and trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Import and export permitting is controlled by CITES itself. While CITES provides a framework for regulating international trade in endangered and threatened species, it does not regulate the hunting or harvesting of these. 2.2. Polar bears and international protection The global population of wild polar bears is estimated at 20,000–25,000 animals (Schliebe et al., 2008), ranging across five Arctic nations – the US, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. Scientists divide polar bears into 19 management units (Vongraven and Peacock, 2011). The status of these units varies (IUCN, 2010). Research intensity is inconsistent across management units, conducted across varying time scales and employing different techniques. Understanding of the status and trends of polar bear populations contains some irreducible uncertainties and so, unsurprisingly, has become politicised and contested (Derocher et al., 2004; Tyrrell, 2006; Stirling and Derocher, 2007; Clark et al., 2008). What is far less contested is the nature of threats polar bears face across their range from habitat degradation due to a warming climate. A decline in sea ice, linked to anthropogenic global

warming, impedes access to ringed seals (Phoca hispida), the primary food source for polar bears, negatively affecting polar bear body condition and reproduction (Stirling et al., 1999; Derocher et al., 2013; Hunter et al., 2010; Regehr et al., 2007). Amstrup et al. (2008) predict the extirpation of polar bears in two-thirds of their distribution by mid-century due to increasing frequency of low ice years even given regional variation in the extent and timing of impacts on polar bears. An international Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed in 1973 by all five range states (cf. Fikkan et al., 1993). Under the terms of the Agreement each state sets national harvest and management legislation (Shadbolt et al., 2012). Regulation of the international trade in polar bears, polar bear parts and derivatives was implemented in 1975, when the species was listed in Appendix II of CITES (Shadbolt et al., 2012). Between 2006 and 2011, an annual average of 735 polar bears were legally killed (Shadbolt et al., 2012, p. 29), representing 3–4% of the estimated global population. There is much dispute regarding the existence of an illegal hunt in Russia (see below). Seventy per cent of the world’s legal harvest of polar bears takes place in Canada, which has two-thirds of the world’s bears (Peacock et al., 2011), and it is the only range country from which polar bears and polar bear parts can be commercially exported. Therefore, Canada’s management of polar bears, and international perception and understanding of Canadian management and hunting practices, are central to the CITES listing. 2.3. Polar bear management in Canada Within Canada, and including the 1973 Agreement, polar bears are managed under eighteen separate pieces of legislation, regulation, policy and indigenous land claims agreement at multilateral, bi-lateral, federal, provincial, territorial and regional scales. Coordination amongst these is facilitated through a Polar Bear Administrative Committee and scientifically supported by a Polar Bear Technical Committee (Shadbolt et al., 2012, p. 29). Polar bears in Canada may be hunted by indigenous people or by trophy hunters guided by indigenous hunters using non-motorised methods, typically dogsled (cf. Freeman and Foote, 2009). 90% of Canada’s polar bears are found in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. In the five years from 2006 to 2011, Canada harvested, on average, 600 bears per year. Hunting is controlled through quotas established in consultation between multiple scales of government and local communities via co-management boards created through land claims agreements (Shadbolt et al., 2012). Community quotas are set from total allowable harvest calculations at the management unit level, ostensibly using the best available scientific and local knowledge (Dowsley, 2009). The system is not perfect. There are concerns amongst wildlife biologists regarding the rigour and validity of indigenous knowledge (Peacock et al., 2011), and mirrored concerns amongst indigenous northerners regarding scientific knowledge and practice (Tyrrell, 2009a). In 2005 Nunavut increased its quota from 400 to 518, based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional and local knowledge). Criticism of this increase, particularly from the US, led to substantial quota reductions in 2008. For economic and social reasons there is, as Clark et al. (2013, p. 366) note, ‘a strong incentive to abide by the quota system’ and instances of illegal hunting are virtually unknown. 2.4. Trophy and subsistence hunting Each management unit is allocated an annual quota based on total allowable harvest and quotas are distributed amongst communities geographically situated within each unit. The percentage of the quota diverted to trophy hunting is generally

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

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low, but varies from one management unit to the next, depending on the presence of unit-specific CITES rulings. Although it represents only a small proportion of bears killed each year, trophy hunting, until recently, played an important economic and organisational role in the annual bear hunt. In 2006, it was valued at CN$2.5–3 million when 153 bears were taken by non-indigenous hunters (Shadbolt et al., 2012). In 2008, the US listed bears as ‘threatened’ under its Endangered Species Act, thus banning the importation of bear parts, and closing Canada’s largest polar bear trophy hunt market. By 2009 the value of the trophy hunt had fallen to CN$1.3 million, and in the 2010–2011 hunting season, only 26 bears were taken by trophy hunters (ibid). The income generated by outfitting trophy hunters and the organisation of guides, assistant guides, dog owners, cooks and others had important socio-economic implications (cf. Foote and Wenzel, 2009). The high wages and often substantial tips earned for this short term employment were re-invested into the subsistence economy, through the purchase of costly but necessary pieces of hunting equipment, such as snow mobiles, all-terrain vehicles, boats and outboard motors, thus supporting large extended families through access to and participation in subsistence hunting (Tyrrell, 2009b; Wenzel, 2009). The largest proportion of the quota is utilised directly by Inuit, and harvested bears are put to multiple uses. Polar bear meat is eaten by humans and sled dogs, pelts are transformed into cold weather clothing and bedding or are sold at auction, and bones are carved for sale on national and international markets. Community Hunters and Trappers Organisations set rules for the local distribution and use of the quota. In some communities all Inuit over the age of 16 (with some exceptions) have an equal chance of winning a hunting tag through a publicly held lottery (cf. Tyrrell, 2006), while in others, tags are awarded on request. Hunters from some communities have only a 24-hour window of opportunity to conduct a bear hunt, while in others a hunter may take two weeks or more. In some communities only one tag is allowed per hunter per year; in others, one hunter may request multiple tags. As the quota is limited and often distributed by lottery, hunters have only infrequent opportunities to hunt bears. For example, Dowsley’s (2010) analysis of three Nunavut communities found that a Clyde River hunter is likely to receive a tag one year out of every 19, and a Qikiqtarjuaq hunter one in every 16 years. The price paid to hunters for untreated polar bear pelts has fluctuated over the years. In 1999 a large hide in good condition could fetch CN$1500, in 2006–2007, a skin of similar size and quality fetched only CN$1200, and by 2009 prices had risen to CN$2500 (Shadbolt et al., 2012). The number of bear hides offered at auction in Canada rose from 40 in 2007 to 150 in 2012 (Natural Resources Defence Council, 2012). This coincides with the closure of the US trophy hunt market, and it may suggest that Inuit are seeking alternatives to the revenue lost from US trophy hunt guiding opportunities. An increase in pelts going to auction does not reflect an increased harvest or quota. For individual Inuit hunters, opportunities to acquire hunting tags and convert them into successful hunts are rare and proscribed by guidelines specific to each management unit. The meat replacement value is distributed widely across communities, and some families who do not make personal use of pelts, choose to sell them at auction to supplement incomes and support the mixed subsistence economy. This is not a commercial hunt. Instead, Inuit take advantage of restricted opportunities within a tightly managed conservation regime to obtain economic resources needed for subsistence activities (Wenzel, 2009), and both trophy and indigenous bear hunting are integrated into the mixed subsistence economy. Due to the economic choices made by some successful hunters, some harvested polar bear parts find their way into international commercial trade.

3. Reconfiguring discourses 3.1. Humane Society International, polar bears and media In January 2013, in advance of CITES CoP16 in Bangkok, Humane Society International (UK) wrote an open letter to Richard Benyon, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary responsible for wildlife at the UK Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Humane Society International (UK) 2013a). The letter urged the minister to support a CITES Appendix I up-listing, and to lobby his EU counterparts to do likewise. The letter was signed by Mark Jones, executive director of Humane Society International (UK) and by seven UK film and television celebrities, including four actors and three television presenters. The latter further identified as, respectively, naturalist, biologist and adventurer. The letter made reference to US Geological Survey model estimates that polar bears may lose up to 70% of their sea ice habitat by 2050 and that ‘we could see a dramatic and sudden decline in polar bear numbers’. The letter went on ‘Canada’s commercial polar bear hunting for the global market, with quotas often set well above scientific recommendations, is unsustainable in these dire circumstances and needs to end now if these animals are to stand any chance of survival’ (emphasis added) The letter concluded by cautioning that, while tackling climate change may take years to benefit polar bears, ‘ending the global trade will give them immediate and much-needed respite’. At the same time, Humane Society International (UK) launched its I’m there for the polar bear campaign with support from the same celebrities. The actor Martin Clunes wrote, on the campaign website, ‘It would be a tragedy to allow the magnificent polar bear to melt away into extinction because we failed to act’, while actor Brian Blessed wrote ‘We are only making their survival harder by allowing them to be killed and sold around the world’ (Humane Society International (UK), 2013b, c). Between January 2013 and the CITES meeting in March, news of the campaign was widely publicised in UK and international newspapers, on environmental and animal welfare websites, and by environmental bloggers. Much of the detail contained within this coverage came directly from the websites of Humane Society International (UK) or other Species Survival Network organisations, or were quotations attributed to Mark Jones or the supporting celebrities. To analyse the content of this news coverage, an online search of English-language newspapers, other news sources and news websites was conducted. The website content of animal welfare organisations and others cited in this news coverage was also accessed and analysed. Using the online search engine Lexis-Nexis, English-language news stories containing ‘polar bear’ in the headline, and published between 15 January and 6 March 2013, were isolated. The start date for this search was chosen following a pilot search of ‘polar bear’ news coverage from 1 October 2012 to January 2013. Prior to 15 January 2013 only two news stories covered the proposed CITES up-listing. However, from 15 January onwards, there was almost daily coverage of the proposed up-listing. The CITES vote took place on 7 March 2013. Therefore, 6 March was chosen as the end point of the online search. Between 15 January and 6 March 2013, 347 news stories containing ‘polar bear’ in the title were published. This compared to 188 ‘polar bear’ stories published in the same time period in 2012, 193 in 2011, and 222 in 2010. CITES CoP15 was held in Doha in March 2010, so media coverage from 2013 and 2010 offer comparison. There is a notable increase in the number of ‘polar bear’ news stories in 2013. Sixty-two stories referred to

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

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annual sporting and charity events unrelated to Ursus maritimus, and these same events were reported in all surveyed years. In 2013, 283 stories were directly linked to U. maritimus. Of these, most were emotive stories about, for example, images of new-born captive and wild cubs, dental treatment for a captive bear, the display of a life-sized model of a recently deceased captive bear, images of wild cubs, and encounters between a bear and a documentary maker shooting a film from inside a Perspex box. Many newspapers (mis)reported Derocher et al.’s (2013) paper that explored future scenarios for polar bear crisis conservation by reporting that scientists now believe feeding bears is necessary to prevent their extinction; something the paper did not recommend. US newspapers devoted much space to two polar bear stories specific to that country. One reported the State of Alaska’s failed federal appeal to de-list polar bears as threatened on the Endangered Species Act. The other reported the Obama Administration’s 19 February signing of a special rule to the same Endangered Species Act listing, stipulating that mineral exploration and extraction activities are not subject to Endangered Species Act prohibitions, though such activities may threaten polar bear habitat (cf. Freeman and Foote, 2009 for an account of the 2008 Endangered Species Act listing). Sixty-seven of the 283 stories focused on the impending CITES meeting, compared to only fifteen such stories in advance of CoP15 in 2010. Taking a grounded theory approach, we qualitatively analysed the content of these sixty-seven news stories. Detailed and close reading and coding across these texts led to the emergence of five interwoven themes that, given our individual and collaborative experience in the area of polar bear management, pointed to a reconfiguration of discourses and a (temporary) decoupling of polar bear conservation from climate change. Of the 67 news stories, 32 were published outside of Canada (for Canadian content, see below). Content analysis of these revealed interpretations of scientific findings and environmental and government policy documents that emphasised a large and lucrative commercial polar bear hunt in Canada, global commercial trade in polar bears, and imminent polar bear extinction. These interpretations are traceable to the pre-CITES CoP16 campaign work of Humane Society International (UK) and its Species Survival Network partners. Core media content and oft-used rhetorical devices were often directly attributable to individual campaigners or to the websites of these animal welfare organisations. The following five interwoven themes dominated the media content to the exclusion of discourses on polar bear management or climate change mitigation. 3.1.1. Commercial hunting The existence of a commercial polar bear hunt in Canada was a central narrative to this campaign. Phrases emphasising a commercial hunt were repeated across the 32 stories and these were traced to the language used in the Humane Society International (UK) campaign and by supporting organisations and bloggers. References to ‘commercial hunting’, polar bears ‘killed for profit’, ‘commercial exploitation’, ‘slaughtering bears’ and ‘profitable trade’ were ubiquitous. The use of these phrases was consistently linked to Canada, beginning with Humane Society International (UK)’s open letter referring to ‘Canada’s commercial polar bear hunting’. In The Independent (January 21), Humane Society International (UK) president, Mark Jones was quoted, ‘They need action now to stop hundreds of them being needlessly killed for profit’ and actor Joseph Fiennes said, ‘Give them a break by ending the commercial hunting’. In the days that followed, The Huffington Post, The International Business Times, The Sunday Express, The Times, among others, all published

stories containing these phrases that suggested ‘commercial hunting’ for profit. The stories suggested that this lucrative ‘commercial trade’ leads to the death of hundreds of bears annually. Jones (2013), in The Huffington Post (January 21) wrote ‘about 600 polar bears are killed in Canada every year and the increasingly exorbitant prices being paid for polar bear parts only serves to incentivise the commercial exploitation of bears’. Jones claimed a CITES up-listing would ‘help protect an estimated 300 bears each year who would otherwise have been killed for trade’. In the International Business Times (January 21), TV celebrity naturalists Chris Packham and Bear Grylls claimed that international commercial trade in polar bear parts ‘contributed to thousands of animals being hunted’. The online English language edition of Pravda (February 5) noted ‘The international trade in polar bear parts results in the deaths of 441 polar bears every year on average in Canada’. The provenance of these figures is unknown, as is the basis for the calculation of the number of bears that would be saved if commercial trade were outlawed. This commercial hunting discourse and the rhetorical use of phrases borrowed from the pro-up-listing lobby, rendered the realities of Inuit polar bear hunting invisible, and emphasised a relationship between hunted and hunter that scientific and social scientific scholarship and Inuit themselves suggest does not exist. There was a suggestion by Humane Society International (UK), however, that some forms of hunting were more acceptable than others. Jones, in The Huffington Post (January 27), wrote, ‘Indigenous hunters cash in on the bears they have killed, supposedly for subsistence purposes’ and later noted that a CITES Appendix I listing would not impact ‘true subsistence hunting by indigenous peoples, it will prevent killings motivated by the international trade in polar bear parts’ (emphasis added). Elsewhere, Clark et al. (2013) have responded to similar limited and closed understandings of the role of money in contemporary subsistence hunting, and there is a strong body of literature that explores the role money plays in contemporary hunter-gatherer mixed subsistence economies (cf. Peterson and Matsuyama, 1991; Wenzel, 2008; Gombay, 2010). 3.1.2. Manipulated numerical data The repeated use of data relating to the number of polar bears killed each year and the number of polar bear parts traded served to paint a picture of vast numbers of dead polar bears circulating in global trade. Repeatedly, readers of these stories were informed that 30,000 or 32,000 specimens were traded globally in the decade to 2010 (The Independent, The International Business Times, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Express, among others). On first glance, such a figure might suggest 32,000 individual bears, but these and other data hid more complex stories of trade, to which we shall return, below. These figures can be traced to Humane Society International (UK)’s open letter, which stated, ‘In the decade to 2010, more than 30,000 polar bears or polar bear parts were globally traded, mostly as trophies, rugs and ornaments’. In lobbying the UK Environment Minister and garnering public support, a particular emphasis was placed on the UK’s role in international trade. An oft quoted statistic suggested that, in the decade leading up to 2010, the UK imported 568 polar bear parts. The use of these data was directly linked to commercial polar bear hunting, as demonstrated when The International Business Times (January 21) followed this statistic about the UK’s importation of polar bear parts with the statement ‘[In Canada] hundreds are killed every year’. Associated with these trade data was an overt suggestion that hunting is on the increase and polar bear hunting data were presented in such a way as to suggest this. The International Fund

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

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for Animal Welfare (IFAW) (IFAW, 2013) reported in late January that ‘rising and unsustainable hunting quotas and killing levels are likely motivated in part by the growing international demand for polar bear hides’ (IFAW website). However, data for Nunavut (Polar Bear Technical Committee, 2012), which accounts for 75% of all Canadian polar bear hunting, show the quota has averaged 444 bears over the past five years, with the highest harvest (463) in 2008/9 and the lowest harvest (418) in 2009/10. Hunting quota data were manipulated and misrepresented to present flat narratives of increase, rather than more complex narratives of flux. Mark Jones, in The Huffington Post (January 27) wrote, ‘authorities are increasing quotas in some Canadian provinces [sic]’, and referred specifically to an increase in the Western Hudson Bay quota. Jones, however, de-contextualised these Western Hudson Bay increases from quota reductions in the five years preceding 2011. Even with increases from 8 to 21 tags between 2011 and 2013, the current Western Hudson Bay quota remains less than the quota of 38 prior to 2007. Repetition of international trade figures numbering in tens of thousands, UK importation figures of 568, presented an inflated image of polar bear trade. In addition, ahistorical readings of Canadian polar bear quotas hid the adaptive management practices used to set quotas each year, and the often complex and contested nature of these practices. 3.1.3. Extinction Conservation discourses often employ rhetorical devices that highlight the decline in species of flora and fauna from some ‘pristine’ era prior to the interference of humans. While the catastrophic decline and extinction of many species cannot be denied, such devices are often used inappropriately for species for which there is either no evidence of decline or no evidence for larger historical populations. Such was the case with polar bears in media and animal welfare organisation coverage in early 2013. A narrative of imminent polar bear extinction pervaded the analysed material. Estimates of current numbers were framed to suggest that polar bears are experiencing cataclysmic decline. For example, The Sunday Express (January 27) reported ‘fewer than 25,000 survive’; the Natural Resources Defence Council blog, Switchboard (January 24), referred to ‘the world’s last remaining polar bears’; and actor Martin Clunes feared that polar bears will ‘melt away into extinction’ (Humane Society International (UK) website). In the 1960s, scientific estimates, based on numbers of pelts sold historically to the Hudson’s Bay Company and other traders, estimated a global population of 5000 wild polar bears. It is impossible to compare these figures with the current estimates of 20,000–25,000, due to the improvements in monitoring methods and technologies, greater numbers of polar bear scientists, and greater collaborations with indigenous northerners. However, the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears gave bears greater protection across their range and it is widely accepted that bear numbers have, at least until recently, been on the increase and that, at least historically, polar bears have not existed in greater numbers. Media reporting, using rhetorical devices such as ‘last remaining’ and ‘only 20,000–25,000’, suggest that, at some ‘pristine’ time in the past, bears did exist in much greater numbers. This ecocentric device, commonly employed in biodiversity conservation and environmental management, looks back to an untarnished time before humans ‘interfered’ with the natural balance of the environment (cf. Berkes et al., 2000 and Tyrrell, 2007 for critiques of the concept of ‘pristine populations’). Positioning narratives of extinction against those of commercial hunting and a lucrative trade in polar bear parts further served to highlight the threat of hunting to polar bear conservation and asked moral questions of

the Canadian government and Canadian hunters. In so doing, scientific data and Inuit environmental knowledge of polar bear populations were ignored and rendered invisible. 3.1.4. Citizens and scientists Narratives of scientific and public consensus regarding uplisting pervaded the media coverage. The rhetorical use of public polling results and references to a singular ‘scientific community’ suggested that the Canadian public opposed its’ government’s continued endorsement of commercial polar bear hunting and that scientists were unanimous in their support for the up-listing as a means to protect polar bear populations. Between 2 and 11 January, a joint IFAW-Humane Society International poll randomly surveyed 2007 Canadian adults by telephone (IFAW, 2013). The poll consisted of two questions. The first listed four ‘serious threats’ to polar bear survival – ‘climate change, pollution, the trade in polar bear parts, and trophy hunting’, and stated ‘some experts believe we could witness the extinction of polar bears within our lifetime’. The proposal to CITES was explained as ‘a way to protect polar bears from possible extinction’. Respondents were then asked if they would ‘strongly support’, ‘somewhat support’, ‘somewhat oppose’ or ‘strongly oppose’ a ban on the international trade in polar bear parts. 63% of respondents chose ‘strongly support’ and 22% chose ‘somewhat support’. The second question asked if respondents would ‘strongly approve’, ‘somewhat approve’, ‘somewhat disapprove’ or ‘strongly disapprove’ of the Canadian government’s plan to oppose the proposal. 52% strongly disapproved (Humane Society International, 2013). These results, published on 30 January in IFAW, Humane Society International and other websites, and subsequently reported in surveyed news stories, were used to suggest that 85% of Canadians supported the up-listing of polar bears to Appendix I. Pravda (February 5), for example, interpreted this as demonstrating a groundswell amongst Canadians for greater polar bear protection. Allied to narratives of public support were those of a ‘scientific community’ unanimously in favour of up-listing. Mark Jones, in Pravda (February 5), ‘Urge[d] the Canadian government to listen to the international scientific community and the vast majority of its citizens’. Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU Director, noted, in the same story ‘EU Member States need to listen to the science and they need to listen to their citizens – both point very clearly to stopping the international commercial trade in polar bear products’. Narratives of near universal support for the up-listing were pervasive. All surveyed media presented narratives of scientific consensus regarding the link between polar bear hunting and declining numbers. However, there was no such universal support. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the CITES advisory panel all opposed the up-listing, on the grounds that it overshadowed climate change-induced habitat change as the more serious and pressing threat to polar bears. 3.1.5. States of morality The repetitive use of certain words and phrases was again used in the construction of moral narratives of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ governments and citizen-actors. The Canadian government, and the actions of some of its citizens, as well as the actions of citizens of Russia and China were singled out as responsible for the ‘commercial’ hunting and commercial trade in polar bears, representing both supply (Canada and Russia) and demand (Russia and China). The Canadian government was presented as morally wanting, due to both continuing to sanction hunting and trade, and in its failure to listen to its citizens. ‘Canada’ or the Canadian government was repeatedly reported as ‘allowing’ its bears to be

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

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shot and sold; as ‘undermining’ international efforts to protect bears; and as ‘killing’ and ‘slaughtering’ polar bears at unsustainable levels. A lucrative market for Canadian polar bear trophies was clearly allied to hunting practices, as was the much less reported illegal Russian hunt. Narratives of wealthy Chinese and Russian citizens paying upwards of US$100,000 per polar bear skin were the driving force behind continued commercial hunting. Mark Jones in The Huffington Post (January 27) wrote, ‘Buyers in Russia and China [pay] as much as US$100,000 for polar bear hides’ and ‘hides that can fetch on average US$5000 [at fur auctions in Canada] can go for [i.e. be sold up the commercial chain] for US$12,500 or more’. The Sunday Express (January 27) reported buyers paying ‘£20,000 [US$30,500] for a 10 ft rug’. The International Business Times (January 21) reported that bear skins had sold at auction in China for £39,337 [US$60,000] and in Russia for £62,430 [US$95,000]. That Canada had shirked its moral responsibility to end polar bear hunting was a suggestion that underlay these references to the price of polar bear trophies. Jones, quoted in Pravda (February 5), said ‘Canadians themselves are aware that. . .killing them for trophies, rugs and trinkets is not only inhumane, but also unsustainable’. ‘Good’ states were also highlighted, in particular the US and the Russian Federation, for leading the campaign to protect bears. Using phrases that suggested partnership and collaboration, these two countries were presented as ‘teaming up’ to ‘help’ polar bears. The New York Times (March 4) carried a story under the banner ‘‘US and Russia team up in a bid to aid polar bears’’ and on the same day United Press International reported ‘‘US, Russia agree on polar bear help’’. At the heart of the Humane Society International (UK) campaign and thus much of the media coverage was a call on the UK and other EU states to ‘do the right thing’ by voting for the uplisting at the March meeting. 3.1.6. Canadian perspectives Not surprisingly, the proposed CITES Appendix I up-listing was widely reported in the Canadian media, and accounted for 35 of the 67 stories isolated through the Lexis-Nexis search. Perspectives in the Canadian media were remarkably different to those in the UK, US, Russia, Australia and elsewhere. Three narratives pervaded, but two of these were much more widely reported than the third. The least reported of these concerned Canada’s international image as an environmental steward, with The New Brunswick Times and Transcript (February 11), for example, suggesting that Canada’s image as a ‘responsible steward’ was at stake. However, almost without exception, Canadian newspapers reported the proposed up-listing as a threat to Canadian autonomy and as a threat to Inuit culture and economy. The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, Guelph Mercury, Globe and Mail, and Edmonton Journal all carried stories portraying the proposed up-listing as a ‘threat’ to the ‘Canadian polar bear trade’, while the Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal and Montreal Gazette claimed the up-listing could ‘harm Inuit lives’. The threat, in the Canadian media, was not to polar bears, but to polar bear hunters and to Canada’s ability to manage its own natural resources. In distinction to media coverage from outside Canada, narratives of Inuit subsistence hunting rather than ‘commercial’ hunting were dominant, and narratives of livelihoods and local economies were privileged over those of lucrative commercial trade. Journalists decried attempts by Canada’s neighbour and ally, the US, to police Canada’s wildlife management policies by proposing an international ban that would harm Canadian livelihoods, and The Hamilton Spectator (February 11) went so far as to ponder the impact of the disagreement on trade relations between the two countries.

4. Analysis Coverage of the proposed up-listing of polar bears at CITES CoP15 in Doha in 2010 was limited. Only fifteen stories isolated through a Lexis-Nexis search covered the issue and the majority of these reported on a TRAFFIC-IUCN report opposing the up-listing. There was no civil society public campaign and only limited decrying of polar bear hunting in the media. But in early January 2013, after the US and Russia had proposed the up-listing, various animal welfare organisations launched media campaigns to win political and public support for the up-listing. In the UK, Humane Society International (UK)’s open letter to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, its celebrity endorsed I’m there for the polar bear campaign, and collaboration with public artists, all went hand-inhand with a media campaign to highlight a discourse of threats to polar bears that emphasised hunting and de-emphasised climate change-induced habitat loss. Numerous rhetorical devices were used to frame polar bears and polar bear hunting. Data and their interpretations, published by polar bear scientists, by CITES and by governments such as Canada and the US, were presented in ways that suggested a large and lucrative commercial trade in polar bears, and an attendant lucrative commercial polar bear hunt in Canada. For the most part, the realities of managed polar bear hunting as part of an Inuit mixed subsistence economy were rendered invisible, while narratives of a commercial Canadian hunt and the demise of polar bears due to international commercial trade were made visible. In the following sections, we will critique the use and interpretation of these data in the media and on animal welfare websites, and argue that the rhetoric of commercial hunting and trade in polar bears, and the narrative of imminent polar bear extinction, served to decouple polar bear conservation from climate change-induced habitat degradation, and disassociated polar bear hunting from Inuit livelihoods. In so doing, public attention was shifted away from the threats posed to polar bears by climate change, and questions were raised, but left unanswered, regarding the existence of an illegal polar bear hunt in Russia. We will conclude with a consideration of the impact a successful up-listing might have had on the international efforts to protect polar bears and polar bear habitat. 4.1. Unpacking the data In mid-January, Humane Society International (UK) reported that in the decade up to 2010, the UK imported 568 polar bears or polar bear parts. This statistic is critical, because it was reported in multiple newspapers and quoted on multiple occasions by the celebrities who participated in the campaign. It is also a statistic that hides layers of complexity and inconsistency, and it is worth taking some time to unpack this figure as an exemplar of the way data were manipulated throughout the campaign. There are inconsistencies in how CITES monitors the movement of species. Appendix II species require export permits, but import permits are required at the discretion of the importing state. Export permits from one country often do not tally with import permits to another. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network that works with partner organisations WWF and IUCN, keeps detailed records of international trade in wild species, and these inconsistencies are noted. According to Tanya Shadbolt of TRAFFIC (personal communication, February 2013), 568 items is a tally of both gross and net trade between 2001 and 2010. It includes items imported, exported, re-imported and re-exported and, thus, overestimates the quantity traded. Temporary import or export of historic bears for museum display are included, and recorded on exiting and entering the country. It includes blood and histological preparations from living or dead bears used in UK scientific

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016

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laboratories. And it includes a double counting of commercial specimens in transit elsewhere. CITES data from 2001 to 2010, as tabulated by TRAFFIC, show 180 specimens were issued export permits with the UK listed as the country of import. Of these, Canada issued 99 permits, Greenland 59 and Norway 22. During this same 10-year period, the UK reported importing only 49 items, all originating in Canada. These discrepancies in export and import data do not point to illegality, but rather to inconsistency in recording. In addition, items included in the 568 are not necessarily from bears killed between 2001 and 2010, but may have been removed from the wild any time over the past century or more. An examination of statistics for populations of polar bears, of the prices paid for skins at auction, or of the frequency of opportunities for Inuit hunters to successfully hunt bears, show similar complexity. A pelt sold by an Inuit hunter for CN$2500 may eventually fetch US$60,000, as it is auctioned and re-auctioned, undergoes taxidermy, is transformed from a raw skin into a rug or mounted display, and is transported to the other side of the world. However, in denying the existence of these complexities, a flat and uncomplicated narrative of commercial hunting for commercial trade in endangered polar bears persisted. 4.2. Inuit mixed subsistence economy Closely aligned to this was the decoupling of polar bears from Inuit subsistence practices. Outside of Canada, no newspaper or website, within the time frame of the survey, reported the impact of an up-listing on Inuit livelihoods. It also went unreported that a CITES up-listing would have no bearing on regulated polar bear hunting, or on non-commercial trade. What a CITES up-listing would have affected, however, were those Inuit who choose, when rare opportunities arise, to sell their bear skins. Irrespective of an up-listing, Inuit would continue to hunt bears for meat for humans and for dogs, for pelts for their own use, and for non-commercial trade. As with the closure of the US trophy hunt market in 2008, a proposed CITES up-listing would adversely impact Inuit livelihoods, but have no bearing on hunting quotas. There are clear parallels with the European Economic Community seal skin ban of the 1980s that crippled many Inuit communities. This too was celebrity endorsed, with Brigitte Bardot playing a key role in calling for an end to fur seal clubbing in Newfoundland. The loosely worded EEC ruling that followed, however, outlawed the importation of pelts from all seal species from across Canada. In many parts of the eastern Arctic Inuit had grown reliant on the trade in seal pelts to facilitate the subsistence economy. As with polar bear trophy hunting, revenue from seal pelts allowed Inuit to purchase snow mobiles, boats, firearms and fuel essential for subsistence hunting. The closure of the European fur market that resulted from a celebrity-driven campaign and loose legislation, crippled Inuit communities, many of which, thirty years on, still struggle to recover (Wenzel, 1991). 4.3. The role of celebrity There is a small body of literature on the role of celebrity in championing climate change awareness (Boykoff, 2008; Boykoff and Goodman, 2009) and it is to this we turn to explore the recruitment of celebrities to this particular cause. Boykoff and Goodman (ibid) refer to ‘the celebritization of climate change’ as the novel confluence of science, celebrities and politics in what they call ‘the cultural politics of climate change’ (p. 396). Celebrities, they argue, are important non-nation-state figures in ‘discursive, material and media politics’, with greater agency and cultural and political capital than the general population. They

describe celebrities as a new form of ‘charismatic megafauna’, whose voices and causes are determined by editors and editorial boards to be newsworthy. Boykoff and Goodman (ibid, p. 401) discuss two distinct ‘camps’ in evaluating the role of celebrity. The ‘distraction camp’ argues that issues championed by celebrities divert attention from the ‘real’ issues and politics of climate change. The ‘democratisation camp’ argues that celebrity endorsement of social and environmental causes brings politics into the public spotlight and leads to greater public participation and political discussion. Far from engaging consumers of media in greater public participation and discussion, this case demonstrates that, with the promotion of the cause to up-list polar bears to CITES Appendix I, the celebrities, artists and others recruited by animal welfare organisations served to close down discussion, creating boundaries around the politics of polar bear hunting and trade. In so doing, climate change-induced habitat degradation was eliminated from the discussion. In this case, the scarcity of references to climate change was surprising, when images of polar bears on melting ice have become de rigueur in news media. Boykoff’s (2008, p. 549) survey of climate change discourse in UK tabloids found that the most prevalent climate change headlines contained language that emphasised ‘fear, misery and doom’. These were certainly emphasised in narratives of imminent extinction, avaricious hunting, and ‘last chances’ to save polar bears. A more nuanced account of polar bear hunting and commercial polar bear trade lacked a ‘newsy’ punch. 4.4. The question of an illegal Russian hunt Reporting of the existence of an illegal polar bear hunt in Russia was limited. A number of media sources reported that the legal Canadian hunt was being taken advantage of by Russian criminals to issue ‘false Canadian permits’ (McGrath 2013), ‘providing a cover for laundering of hides from illegally killed Russian bears’ (The Guardian, March 5). The same two stories estimated 200 bears are poached in Russia annually, Mark Jones in The Huffington Post (January 27) estimated ‘several hundred’, and The Independent (January 20) reported ‘an unknown number’. A strong argument in support of up-listing was that a ban on international commercial trade in polar bear parts would put an end to illegal bear hunting. Evidence of the existence of such a hunt is, at present, virtually non-existent. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Russia banned polar bear hunting in 1956, and successfully enforced this ban until that country’s economic collapse in the mid-1990s when, due to economic and material hardships, illegal hunting of all wild game increased, as people sought to stave off starvation (Meek et al., 2008). However, this was a short-lived spike in poaching, and there is currently no evidence for a particular number of bears taken for the international market (Geoff York, WWF, personal communication, June 2013). In 2000, the US and Russia signed a bi-lateral Agreement on the Conservation and Management of the Alaska-Chukotka Polar Bear Population. Most evidence points to a small subsistence hunt, including for defence of life but, at the time of writing, Russia continues to stall on legalising this hunt, and no-one has been prosecuted or fined for illegal hunting. Current estimates for a subsistence and defence of life hunt are lower than a possible quota of 29 that would be allowed under the US-Russia Agreement (Anne Kendrick and Chanda Meek, personal communication, March and June 2013). Alaskan and Chukotkan social and biological scientists are in the early stages of exploring these issues. At present, a lack of concrete evidence makes it impossible to comment on the impact of an illegal hunt for commercial trade on the Chukchi Sea or Laptev Sea management units. Proponents and

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opponents of the CITES up-listing mentioned the existence of an illegal hunt, but the hunting statistics most widely reported in the media were from the managed legal hunt in Canada. 4.5. Other voices Other organisations and institutions gave voice to different narratives and discourses at the CITES meeting in Bangkok. Here, the singular flat discourse of commercial polar bear hunting and imminent extinction was replaced by multiple voices and multiple perspectives. The CITES scientific advisory committee, the WWF, and the IUCN/Species Survival Commission Polar Bear Specialist Group read different narratives from the same scientific and trade data used by Humane Society International (UK) and its partners. In addition, there was strong Inuit representation in Bangkok. The CITES scientific advisory committee, WWF and IUCN/ Species Survival Commission Polar Bear Specialist Group recommended that an up-listing to Appendix I was ‘unlikely to confer a conservation benefit, and could have a negative impact on socioeconomic systems as well as domestic and international partnerships’ (IUCN, 2013). They argued, in separate documents, that scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the primary threat to polar bears is loss of sea ice habitat due to anthropogenic climate change, and that both habitat loss and population declines could only be mitigated through reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases. They argued that available scientific data did not match the criteria for up-listing, that a marked population decline had only been observed in a few management units, and data to determine overall population trends was unavailable. They argued that an Appendix I listing would have a negligible impact on the numbers of bears hunted, and suggested that polar bear states should be encouraged and supported in their on-going conservation management practices. There was a strong backlash to this IUCN and WWF stance, in particular from members of the Species Survival Network. The Natural Resources Defence Council produced a pamphlet on behalf of itself, IFAW, Humane Society International and Pro-Wildlife, stating that the WWF/TRAFFIC report presented a strong case for up-listing, but had misstated or ignored important facts (Natural Resources Defence Council, 2012). Terry Audla, chairman of the Inuit delegation in Bangkok, made a statement to the Conference of Parties, claiming that ‘A ban would affect our ability to buy the necessities of life, to clothe our children. We have to protect our means of putting food on the table and selling polar bear hides enables us to support ourselves’ (Audla, 2013). He called for the Parties to make a decision that would be in the best interests of both animal and human inhabitants of Arctic. On 7th March 2013 the proposal was put to the Conference of Parties. A two-thirds majority was required for the proposal to pass. 38 countries voted in favour of the proposal; 42 voted against; 46 abstained; and 52 Parties did not attend the vote. Critically, the EU, which votes as a bloc, and represents 27 votes, abstained. For the time being polar bears remain Appendix II listed and regulated international trade continues. 5. Discussion Media reporting on climate change and images of polar bears, it seems, go hand in hand. However, at the start of 2013, this link between polar bears and climate change was underplayed, as a narrative of extinction at the hands of avaricious hunters and collectors took its place. Grundy-Warr and Sidaway (2006, in Boykoff, 2008, p. 509) argue that ‘the political geographies of

silence and erasure demand our critical and careful scrutiny’. Within the news media between January and March, some voices were silenced while others were amplified. Outside of the Canadian media, only those scientists and organisations that supported the up-listing were given media space. WWF, the IUCN and the CITES scientific advisory panel, all in opposition to up-listing, were silenced in the media. Outside Canada, Inuit voices were silenced too, to the extent that an Inuit subsistence hunt was widely presented as a ‘Canadian commercial hunt’. A similar absence of Inuit perspectives and needs was also a feature of national Canadian and US media coverage of the efforts to list polar bears under the US Endangered Species Act in 2008 (Foote et al., 2009). It appears that unlike polar bears, Inuit may be inconvenient symbols for globalised environmental narratives. Throughout the campaign, polar bear conservation was decoupled from climate change-induced habitat degradation. Animal welfare organisations, through the media, encouraged the UK and other governments to focus on international commercial trade, while de-emphasising the role these governments play in contributing to anthropogenic climate change. This approach was mirrored in the 2008 US Endangered Species Act listing. US environmental groups that proposed the listing sought to limit US greenhouse gas emissions, and, in listing polar bears as threatened, to force the US government to take steps to mitigate against habitat destruction (cf. Freeman and Foote, 2009). But both the Bush and Obama administrations have used loopholes in the Endangered Species Act listing to approve on-going mineral exploration and extraction within and outside of polar bear habitat. Indeed, both supporting and opposing delegates at CITES CoP16 suggested that the US had proposed the up-listing to compensate for its perceived lack of action on climate change (The Guardian, 7 March 2013). An emphasis on commercial hunting and trade de-emphasised state obligations to limiting further anthropogenic-induced threats to polar bear habitat. These outcomes beg the question of why such a shift in discourses took place. We can only speculate about possible avenues of inquiry here, but the fundraising potential of polar bears for environmental organisations would be an obvious place to begin. Canada was perhaps an easy target as it had been internationally criticised for, among other things, its 2011 withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Similarly, the failure of polar bears to be the fulcrum around which non-governmental organisations finally pivoted US climate change policy could have been seen to necessitate a strategic diversion. A number of actors stood to benefit in the short run; nation-state governments under increasing pressure to act against climate change, environmental organisations that had used polar bears as campaign symbols, the energy industry, and even opponents of progressive climate change policies. Further research into participant strategies and careful chronicling of unfolding events are likely to be illuminating. As the US Endangered Species Act classification of polar bears in 2008 demonstrates, nominal environmental protection has little impact on countries’ climate change mitigation practices (Pielke, 2010). The cost of such measures is negligible to nation-states, largely underwritten by international non-governmental organisations, and externalised onto Arctic indigenous peoples. While the US could claim that it was taking steps to contribute to polar bear conservation with its CoP16 proposal, it has carried on a ‘business as usual’ approach to greenhouse gas emissions that does not slow the accelerating loss of Arctic sea ice (Meek, 2011). The Endangered Species Act listing did succeed, however, in closing down opportunities for Canadian Inuit to contribute financially to their mixed subsistence economy. The EEC seal skin ban in the 1980s

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had a similar impact on Inuit lives. What impact would an Appendix I CITES up-listing have had? It would have closed down opportunities for individual Inuit to sell occasional bear pelts and re-invest that money in the subsistence economy and, as both the EEC seal skin ban and the Endangered Species Act listing have previously done, it would have soured many Inuit to all forms of conservation and rendered co-management more difficult. And, as with the US ‘business as usual’ approach, might an Appendix I uplisting have resulted in Parties patting each other on the back for having done their bit for polar bears, only to return home from Bangkok forgetting about the accumulating impacts of climate change? We cannot know the answers to these questions, but another campaign at a future Conference of Parties meeting may lead to a different outcome. Work has begun again for all concerned. With just over two years to CoP17 in 2016, Parties on all sides are preparing to do battle again. Civil society environmental organisations will continue to recruit celebrity spokespeople to represent their causes in the news media. As the polar bear case has demonstrated, complexity takes a back seat to a shocking headline, issues are simplified, and the world is presented in black and white. It has long been recognised that complexity does not sell newspapers. But in denying media consumers the opportunity to engage with a more complete and complex story, and in de-emphasising the rich relationships between Inuit and polar bears and the ties that bind polar bear resilience to climate change, opportunities to engage publics with meaningful climate change politics and biodiversity politics are lost. Parties on all sides claim to have the best interests of polar bear populations at heart, and they likely do. A flat and simplified emphasis on polar bear hunting though does a disservice to all those scientists, indigenous people, managers, and advocates who work so tirelessly to protect polar bears and their habitat; however different their motivations and tactics may be. Ultimately the newly simplified discourse places the future of polar bears in greater jeopardy by diverting attention away from climate changeinduced sea ice loss, from the realities of humans and animals sharing that habitat, and from the un-glamorous complexities of forging effective biodiversity conservation policies across cultures and countries. Yet another ‘fig leaf’ conservation decision for polar bears (Clark et al., 2013) was narrowly averted at CoP16, but if the new discourses take root we can expect that dismaying policy trend to continue. By obscuring the root causes of the threats to polar bears, the likelihood of truly rational, feasible, and justifiable conservation actions for a warming Arctic may be receding just as fast as the region’s sea ice. Acknowledgements We wish to think, Anne Kendrick, David Lee, Chanda Meek, Tanya Shadbolt, and Geoff York for providing and helping to untangle the management and trade data, Julian Scott for useful advice and comments on earlier versions of the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for thoughtful and helpful advice. References
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Websites
CITES http://www.cites.org. Humane Society International (UK) http://www.hsi.org/world/united_kingdom/ news/news/2012/11/polar_bear_proposal_112712.html. Newspapers International Business Times (21/1/2013) ‘Chris Packham, Joseph Fiennes and Bear Grylls call for UK ban on polar bear parts’. Pravda online (5/2/2013) ‘Canada’s unsustainable slaughter of polar bears’ http:// english.pravda.ru/hotspots/disasters/05-02-2013/123687-canada-slaughter0/. The Calgary Herald (22/1/2013) ‘Inuit see threat under polar bear trade ban’. The Edmonton Journal (22/1/2013) ‘Polar bear trade ban a ‘threat’ to Inuit’. The Edmonton Journal (11/2/2013) ‘Trade in polar bear parts at risk’. The Globe and Mail (11/2/2013) ‘U.S.-backed proposal threatens Canada’s polar bear trade’. The Guardian (5/3/2013) ‘US and Russia unite in bid to strengthen protection for polar bear’. The Guardian (7/3/2013) ‘Polar bears: politics trumps precaution every time’. The Guelph Mercury (11/2/2013) ‘Canada battling US proposal to ban trade in polar bear parts’. The Independent (20/1/2013) ‘Britain urged to stop supporting the trade in dead polar bears’. The Independent (21/1/2013) ‘Stars call for UK to abandon support for polar bear trade’. The Montreal Gazette (11/2/2013) ‘Polar bears are the focus of a battle to ban the sale of their body parts, but it could harm Inuit livelihoods, Canada claims’. The New York Times (4/3/2013) ‘US and Russia team up in bid to aid polar bears’. The Ottawa Citizen (11/2/2013) ‘Inuit could lose right to sell parts of polar bears’. The Sunday Express (27/1/2013) ‘We lead fight against polar bear trophies’. United Press International (4/3/2013) ‘US, Russia agree on polar bear help’. The Telegraph Journal (New Brunswick) (12/2/2013) ‘Canada in danger of losing international battle that could put sale of polar bear parts with ivory’.

Please cite this article in press as: Tyrrell, M., Clark, D.A., What happened to climate change? CITES and the reconfiguration of polar bear conservation discourse. Global Environ. Change (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.016