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Defining response capacity to enhance climate change policy Emma L. Tompkins a,b,*, W. Neil Adger a

Summary: Defining response capacity to enhance climate change policy
Emma L. Tompkins a,b,*, W. Neil Adger a
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
Department of Geography, University of Southampton, UK
Available online 30 September 2005
Climate change adaptation and mitigation decisions made by governments are usually taken in different policy domains. At the individual
level however, adaptation and mitigation activities are undertaken together as part of the management of risk and resources. We propose that a
useful starting point to develop a national climate policy is to understand what societal response might mean in practice. First we frame the set
of responses at the national policy level as a trade off between investment in the development and diffusion of new technology, and investment
in encouraging and enabling society to change its behaviour and or adopt the new technology. We argue that these are the pertinent trade-offs,
rather than those usually posited between climate change mitigation and adaptation. The preference for a policy response that focuses more on
technological innovation rather than one that focuses on changing social behaviour will be influenced by the capacity of different societies to
change their greenhouse gas emissions; by perceived vulnerability to climate impacts; and by capacity to modify social behaviour and
physical environment. Starting with this complete vision of response options should enable policy makers to re-evaluate the risk environment
and the set of response options available to them. From here, policy makers should consider who is responsible for making climate response
decisions and when actions should be taken. Institutional arrangements dictate social and political acceptability of different policies, they
structure worldviews, and they determine the provision of resources for investment in technological innovation and social change. The


Source: Adger, Neil - School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology