Bottom up Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe

Institutional barriers to climate change adaptation in decentralised governance structures: Transport planning in England

Climate change poses governance challenges at diverse scales and across the dimensions of risk
and responsibility. Local governments are central to the delivery of action on both decarbonisation
and adapting to the risks of climate change. Yet there are likely to be significant differences
across local governments in terms of their capacity to act on climate change. This research documents
and explains differences in the capacity to act within response spaces to risks to transport
infrastructure and systems. We examine 80 Transport Plans across local governments in England,
specifically their efforts to incorporate climate change adaptation. Data are generated from content
analysis of the 80 documents and key informant interviews in a sample of 15% of authorities.
The results show significant disparities across authorities. We explain differential outcomes as
dependent on internal coordination, local prioritisation processes and political opposition. The
results highlight that there are significant governance barriers associated with differential
response capacity in the face of climate change risks.

Journal title: 
Urban Studies
Benjamin JA Walker
W Neil Adger
Duncan Russel
Publication Type: 
Date of publication: 
January, 2016