Translating climate risk assessments into more effective adaptation decision-making: The importance of social and political aspects of place-based climate risk

Andrew P. Kythreotis*, Matthew Hannaford, Candice Howarth, Gary Bosworth

*Corresponding author for this work

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Climate risk continues to be framed ostensibly in terms of physical, socio-economic and/or ecological risks, as evidenced in the 2012 and 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) evidence reports. This article argues that framing climate risk in this way remains problematic for the science-policy process, particularly in ensuring adequate climate risk assessment information translates into more effective adaptation decision-making. We argue how climate risk assessments need to further consider the social and political aspects of place-based climate risk to ensure more effective adaptation policy outcomes. Using a discourse analysis of the CCRA3 Technical Report methods chapter published in June 2021, we discuss three critical themes around how climate risk is currently framed within the Technical Report methods chapter. These are (i) the over-reliance on reductive methodological framing of assessing climate risk through ‘urgency scores’; (ii) the idea of what constitutes ‘opportunity’; and (iii) the framing of transformational adaptation discourses through the lens of climate risk. To conclude, we suggest that to move beyond assessing risk solely in terms of biophysical and socio-economic risk, a greater emphasis on the social and political contexts of ‘place-based’ risk needs to be central to climate change risk assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103705
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date17 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

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