6.4 Adaptation to climate-related hazards in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah: Explaining differences in local responses

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 4:15 PM
Room 19A (Austin Convention Center)
Lisa Dilling, CIRES, Boulder, CO; and K. Andersson, A. Ravikumar, C. Brown, and M. Holmgren

One of the potential barriers to successful adaptation may lie in local decision processes and the fact that decision makers do not always choose to proactively mitigate future risks. We explore why some local decision makers choose to adapt to climate-related stress and risk while others do not. We investigate this question by analyzing data from interviews with over 130 elected officials, appointed officials, and emergency managers from a sample of municipalities in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming and from detailed comparative case studies of incentives for policy makers. We find that many municipalities have implemented policies that are adaptive to climate-related hazards, although there are significant differences in responses between municipalities. Past exposure to hazards does not appear to be a particularly useful predictor of adaptive responses. Instead, we hypothesize that the institutional context and also the competence and engagement of officials may play an important role in shaping municipal adaptation outcomes. In addition, we argue that non-governmental organizations in all three regions play an important role in enhancing municipal adaptive capacity.
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