An Evaluation of Municipal Adaptation Planning in California: Climate Information Use, Access, and the Integration of Social Vulnerability
AdvisorLiverman, Diana M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractUrban adaptation plans are often predicated on knowledge of climate risks, requiring municipal planners to engage in novel ways of gathering data and using climate information, a term used for current and future climate projections and their impacts. However, few studies have assessed if and how municipal governments are acquiring and integrating climate information and how this might impact strategy development. Using content analysis and selected interviews to evaluate 26 of California’s 2012-2017 municipal adaptation plans, this study identifies (1) what climate information is used and how it supports strategy development (2) the networks and sources that provide climate information, and (3) the integration of social vulnerability concerns and public participation. I find that California’s municipalities rely on qualitative and quantitative descriptions of future climate to frame generalized threats to urban sectors and inhabitants. However, apart from sea level rise, plans do not address the location of magnitude of climate impacts within a municipality. As a result, climate information is mainly used to create a sense of urgency around climate change and support the low-cost capacity building solutions that dominate California’s urban adaptation strategies. While most municipalities consult information from state climate assessments and online climate wizards, to a lesser extent, municipalities form connections with regional commissions and local universities. These partnerships resulted in locally specific impact assessments that were used to produce tailored adaptation strategies. Despite the frequent integration of climatic variables, few plans take additional steps to identify and account for vulnerable populations within their jurisdictions. Similarly, public participation techniques are rarely incorporated into adaptation strategies but are more common in plans created by municipal staff as opposed to environmental consultants. As a result, key policy considerations for California include providing support for understanding the location and magnitude of climate impacts for multiple climate hazards, supporting the creation of additional regional commissions that can assist a greater number of municipalities, and providing incentives and tools for integrating social vulnerability and public participation into adaptation plan development.
Degree ProgramGraduate College