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The Right Stuff? Informing Adaptation to Climate Change in British Local Government

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The

right

stuff?

informing

adaptation

to

climate

change

in

British

Local

Government

James

J.

Porter

a,

*,

David

Demeritt

b

,

Suraje

Dessai

a

a

SustainabilityResearchInstituteandESRCCentreforClimateChangeEconomicsandPolicy,SchoolofEarthandEnvironment,UniversityofLeeds,LS29JT, UK

b

DepartmentofGeography,King’sCollegeLondon,WC2R2LSLondon,UK

ARTICLE INFO

Articlehistory:

Received22December2014

Receivedinrevisedform16October2015 Accepted17October2015

Availableonlinexxx

Keywords: Adaptation Localauthorities Climateinformation

Understandinganduseofscience Institutionalbarriers

Climatechange

ABSTRACT

Localgovernmenthasacrucialroletoplayinclimatechangeadaptation,bothdeliveringadaptation strategies devisedfrom above and coordinatingbottom-up action. This paper draws ona unique longitudinaldatasettomeasureprogressinadaptationbylocalauthoritiesinBritain,comparingresults fromanational-scalesurveyandfollow-upinterviewsconductedin2003withasecondwaveofresearch completedadecadelater.Whereasadecadeagolocalauthoritystaffwereunabletofind scientific informationthattheycouldunderstandand use,wefind thatthesetechnical-cognitivebarriersto adaptationareno longeramajorproblemforlocal authorityrespondents. Thankstoconsiderable Governmentinvestmentinresearchandsciencebrokeragetoimprovethequalityandaccessibilityof climateinformation,localauthoritieshavedevelopedtheiradaptivecapacity,andtheirstaffarenow engaging withthe‘right’kindof informationinassessingclimate changerisksand opportunities. However,betterknowledgehasnottranslatedintotangibleadaptationactions.Localauthoritiesface substantialdifficultiesinimplementingadaptationplans.Budgetcutsandalackofpoliticalsupportfrom central governmenthave sappedinstitutional capacityandpolitical appetiteto addresslong-term climate vulnerabilities,aslocalauthoritiesin Britainnowstruggleevento delivertheirimmediate statutory responsibilities. Local authority adaptation has progressed farthest where it has been rebrandedasresiliencytoextremeweathersoastofitwiththefocusonimmediateriskstodelivering statutoryduties.Inthecurrentpoliticalenvironment,adaptationofficersneedinformationaboutthe economiccostsofweatherimpactstolocalauthorityservicesiftheyaretobuildthebusinesscasefor adaptationandgaintheleveragetosecureresourcesandinstitutionallicensetoimplementtangible action.Unlesstheseinstitutionalbarriersareaddressed,localgovernmentislikelytostruggletoadaptto achangingclimate.

ã2015Z.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.ThisisanopenaccessarticleundertheCCBYlicense(http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

1.Introduction

Withsomedegreeofclimatechangenowinevitable,climate policyisshiftingawayfromitsonceexclusivefocusonmitigating climatechangetopreparingfor,andadaptingto,theimpactsto come. Mainstreaming adaptation is now a major concern for international bodies, while in the United Kingdom the 2008 ClimateChangeActrequiresGovernmenttoassesstherisksfrom climatechangeandtopublishupdatedplansforadaptingtothem everyfiveyears.

Adaptationpolicyisoftenframedasdependinguponscienceto informplanninganddecision-making(NationalResearchCouncil,

2009;Prestonetal.,2015).Mossetal.(2014)notethatmeeting theseinformation needsremains‘a majorchallengeforclimate science’internationally.InBritain,however,theGovernmenthas workedhardtoaddresssuchinformationbarriers.Tounderpinits National Adaptation Programme (NAP), the UK Government commissionedaClimateChangeRiskAssessment(CCRA),building onthelatestUKClimateProjections(UKCP09)andparallelwork donebya nationalnetworkofregionalclimatechange partner-ships‘tosetoutthemain risksandopportunities fromclimate change for different sectors locally’ (DEFRA, 2014). While the DepartmentfortheEnvironment,FoodandRuralAffairs(DEFRA) ClimateChangeEvidencePlan(2013a)emphasizestheimportance of‘fillingevidencegaps(p.12)aboutthelikelyimpactsoffuture climatechange,italsorecognizesthechallengesofdeliveringthat science ‘at a scale decision makers can use for informing adaptationdecisionsnow(p.9).Suchframingsremainverymuch * Correspondingauthor.

E-mailaddress:j.j.porter@leeds.ac.uk(J.J.Porter).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.10.004

0959-3780/ã2015Z.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.ThisisanopenaccessarticleundertheCCBYlicense(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

ContentslistsavailableatScienceDirect

Global

Environmental

Change

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aliveandwellinpolicycirclesacrosstheworld,despiteacademic theorists repeatedly questioning whether such thinking over-simplifiesthechallengesinvolved(seePrestonetal.,2015;Dessai etal.,2009;MoserandEkstrom,2010).

A growing body of social science highlights the practical difficulties of using climate science to inform adaptation (see Kirchhoffetal.,2013).Cashetal.(2003,p.8086)arguethatscience must‘notonlybecredible,butalsosalientandlegitimate’,ifitisto beused for policy making.Climate science is complicated and difficult to communicate to non-experts in ways they can understandandactupon(PidgeonandFischhoff,2011;Stephens et al., 2012).Climate projections are necessarily uncertain and limitedin termsof thedetail theycanprovide(Mearns,2010). Thesescientificlimitationsarenotalwaysappreciatedby policy-makerslookingtosciencefordefinitiveanswersonwhichtobase difficult decisions and close off political debate about them (Demeritt,2006).Researchpointstootherdemand-sidebarriersto usingclimate scienceforadaptation, includingconvenienceand accessibility(DemerittandLangdon,2004),trustandfamiliarity (Archieetal.,2014;KiemandAustin,2013),limitedresourcesand scientificcapacitywithinorganizations(TribbiaandMoser,2008; Wilby and Keenan, 2012), perceived relevance to institutional mandates and priorities (Archie et al., 2014; Tang and Dessai, 2012), and institutional risk aversion (Kuhlicke and Demeritt, 2014;Rayneretal.,2005).Therearealsochallengesonthesupply sideindeliveringsciencethatisrelevantandusableforadaptation (SarewitzandPiekle, 2007).Scientistshavetendedtoprioritize basic,curiosity-driven research over addressing thesometimes ratherdifferentconcernsofpolicymakers(McNie,2007; Meyer,

2011). Recent studies have highlighted the importance of

knowledge brokers (Meyer, 2010), boundary organizations (Agrawala et al., 2001; Miller 2001), and other forms of co-production(DillingandLemos,2011;LemosandMorehouse,2005) inbridgingthecognitiveandinstitutionaldividesbetweenscience andpolicysoastodeliverusefulclimatescienceinusableforms thatisthenactuallyusedfordecision-making.

Todate,muchoftheempiricalresearchonadaptationplanning anddecision-makinghasbeencasestudybased(e.g.,Engleand Lemos, 2010; Massey et al., 2014). This creates problems for developingadaptationtheory,especially overhowtogeneralize findings fromtheparticularsofsinglecases.Whilecomparative case-studyanalysisisonesolutiontothatdilemma(Burch2010;

Vogel and Henstra 2015), others have used cross-sectional

comparisonstoprovidelargersamplesizes(Berrang-Fordetal.,

2014; Engle and Lemos, 2010; Massey et al., 2014). Both

approaches,however,arecomplicatedbydifficultiesindefining clear,consistent,and measurablevariablesbywhich toidentify more general patterns across individual cases and then test hypothesestoexplainthem,whetherthroughstatistical correla-tion or small-nsize critical case testing of theory. Dupuis and Biesbroek(2013)callthisthedependentvariableproblem,and they argue that it has hampered the explanatory power of adaptationresearch.

This paper responds to those methodological challenges by developingauniquelongitudinaldatasettomeasureprogressover time in addressing what Lemos et al. (2012) have termedthe ‘climate information usability gap’. Empirically we focus on adaptationin Britishlocalgovernment, comparingresultsfrom anationalsurveyandfollow-up interviewswithlocalauthority (LA)officersresponsiblefortheclimatebriefin2003(Demeritt&

Langdon 2004), with a second wave of survey and interview

research completed in 2013 with a comparable group of LA officials.Bykeepingthebroadinstitutionalcontextconstantover time, this longitudinal comparison overcomes the dependent variableproblem of comparing apples with orange decried by

Dupuis and Biesbroek (2013) and enables us to assess the

effectiveness of different policy interventions in building- or eroding-adaptivecapacity.

Wefocusonadaptationbylocalgovernment,becauseofthe crucialroleitplaysinbothdeliveringadaptationstrategiesdevised fromaboveand incoordinatingbottom-upaction (Adgeret al., 2005).IntheUK,LAshavestatutoryresponsibilitiesforclimate sensitivefunctionsrangingfromlocaltransport,spatialplanning, and flood risk management to public housing and social care. Moreover,as the Local GovernmentAssociation (LGA, 2007: 2) notestheir‘democraticmandateforaction[and]closeproximityto citizens’givethem‘a strategicroleleadingotherpublic, private andvoluntarysectorpartners.Casestudyresearchinanumberof countries including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Norway, South Africa,SwedenandtheUnitedStateshashighlightedavarietyof challengesfacedbylocalgovernmentsinachievingthisleadership potential(seeAmundsenetal.,2010;Archieetal.,2014;Crabbé andRobin,2006;Hardoyetal.,2014;Hjerpeetal.,2014;Measham et al.,2011; Roberts,2010).LikewiseintheUK,two largescale surveysofclimateadaptationalsofoundrelativelylittleevidence ofproactiveadaptationbylocalauthoritiesandsignificantgapsin theirawarenessandcapacitytouseclimateinformationtoinform adaptationplanninganddecision-making(DemerittandLangdon, 2004;Tompkinsetal.,2010).

Overtheperiodsincethosestudieswerecompleted,successive governmentsintheUKhavetakenanumberofstepstopromote adaptationanddevelopthecapacityofLAsandotherpublicand privatesectororganizationstouseclimatescienceforadaptation planning and decision-making. On the supply side the UK Governmentanddevolvedadministrationsfundedamulti-million pound CCRAunderpinned by two rounds of successively more detailed climate scenarios for the UK, UKCIP02 and UKCP09 (Hulmeetal.,2002;Jenkinsetal.,2009).Tosupporttheuseofthat science,theUKGovernmentcreatedtheClimateReadyserviceand anetworkof12regionalClimateChangePartnershipstoextend theknowledgebrokerageworklongundertakenbyindependent butlargelygovernment-fundedorganizationsliketheUKClimate ImpactProgramme(UKCIP)andtheLGA’sClimateLocalinitiative insupportofadaptationdecision-makingbyLAs.Onthedemand side,therehavealsobeenchangestothewiderstatutory(i.e.2008 ClimateChangeAct)andregulatory(i.e.,NationalIndicator188; adaptationreportingpowers;NationalAdaptationProgramme;EU AdaptationStrategy)frameworkinwhichLAsundertake adapta-tion.AtthesametimeLAshavealsofacedwrenchingcutstotheir budgets, with a 26% real terms reduction in local government spendingplannedoverthelifeofthe2010–2015Parliament(NAO, 2014),alongsidewiderreformsoflocalgovernment,suchasthe elimination of central planning policy guidance and many LA performancetargets(LGA,2012),tomakepublicservicedelivery morelocallyresponsive(LowndesandPratchett,2012).

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usefulnessandusabilityofclimateinformationhaveaffectedthe sourcesusedbyLA officialsoverthelast decade,and howasa resultLAsnowperceivetherisksposedbyclimatechange.Wethen discusswhetherandhowLAshaverespondedtothoseriskswith tangibleadaptation actions. We identifya series of barriers to movingfromassessingclimateriskstotakingadaptationactionsin thecontextof ongoingausterityand government restructuring. Thepaperclosesbyfocusingonwhyusableclimateinformation might not always be useful or used and how institutional imperativesshapeadaptationinpractice.

2.Dataandmethods

Ourresearchinvolvedlongitudinalcomparisonoftwodatasets collected a decade apart. The first was a survey (n=184) and follow-up interviews(n=21)conducted in 2003–2004 with LA environmental officers in England and Wales and detailed in Demerittand Langdon (2004). Thesewere compared against a secondroundofsurveyandinterviewdatacollectedin2012–2013 andreportedhereforthefirsttime(seetheSupplementalmethods appendixforfurtherdetails).

ThenewsurveywasconductedinNovember2012,usingan online instrument and repeating the same open and closed Likert-scalequestionsasDemerittandLangdon(2004),toallow for a longitudinal comparison. It was addressed to chief environmental officers inall 407LAs inEngland, Scotlandand Wales,whowereindividuallyidentifiedfromGovEval’snational and local government databaseand askedtopass it ontothe personinchargeofclimatechangeadaptation intheLA.Inall 116 responses were received for a 28.3% response rate (see Table1),whichcomparesfavourablywithotherofficial govern-mentsurveysofLAsonthesametopic(LGA,2010).Apartfroma slightlylowerreturninthenortheastofEngland,breakdownof responses by region and LA type shows little evidence of systematicnon-respondentbias.

ResponseswereenteredintoSPSSforstatisticalanalysiswith nominalcodingalsousedtoquantifyresponsestoseveral open-endedquestions.Themajorityofrespondents(41%)werefromLA officersworkinginenvironmentdepartments,thoughwealsohad substantialnumbersfromplanning(19%),policy(15%),housing/ builtenvironment(13%)departmentsalongwithasmatteringof othersbasedinenergy(7%),regeneration(4%)andtransport(1%). This broad range within LAs speaks tothe heterogeneity with whichadaptationresponsibilitiesareorganized.Respondents’job titleswerealsoclassifiedbylevelofseniorityinto‘officer’level (48%),‘middlemanagement’(e.g.senior/manager)level(36%),or executives (e.g. head, chief and director) level (16%). Other, typicallylengthieropen-ended surveyresponseswereexported to NVivo for coding and comparative qualitative analysis with interviewdata.

Preliminaryanalysisofthesurveyndingsinformedaroundof follow-upinterviewsconductedoverthewinterof2012–2013with apurposefulsampleof20respondentsfromdifferentregionsand

LA types,who had volunteered furthercontact details in their surveyreturns.Effortswerealsomadetocapturearangeofjob roles and levels of seniority and recruitment continued until analytical saturationwas reached.In contrasttoourlarge-scale survey,theopen-endednatureofthesesemi-structuredinterviews allowed respondentsmorescopetocommunicate theeveryday experiences of doing adaptation using their own words and framings.Interviewswererecordedandtranscribed.

Interview transcripts were manually coded in NVivo with thematic codes identified and elaborated iteratively through successiveengagementswiththecorpusofqualitativedatafrom theinterviewsandtheopen-endedsurveyresponses.Tointroduce greaterrigorandvaliditytoourinterpretationofthesefindings, analysisinvolvedsource,method,andinvestigatortriangulation (BaxterandEyles,1997).The2003datasetcollectedbyDemeritt andLangdon(2004)providedabaselinefromwhichchangesover thelastdecadeintheperceptions,practices,andadaptivecapacity ofBritishLAscouldbemeasured.

3.Results

3.1.Howarelocalauthoritiesinformedaboutclimatechange?

In2003,LAsfailedtoaccess,orattimeswereevenunawareof, thelatestofficialclimatescenario,UKCIP02,preparedforDEFRAby theTyndallCentreforClimate ChangeResearchand MetOffice HadleyCentretoinformadaptationplanninginBritain(Demeritt andLangdon,2004).Instead,theywereheavilyreliantonunofficial sources,especiallythemedia,whichLAstaffacknowledgedtobe less reliable and accurate than what was provided by official scienceagencies,liketheMetOfficeand UKCIP,butweremore accessible,easiertounderstand,andthusmuchmorefrequently

Table1

2012SurveyrespondentsbyLAtype(n=116).

LAtype NumberofLAsinsampleuniverse NumberofLAsresponding %

Non-metropolitandistricts 203 52 25.6

Metropolitandistricts 36 9 25

Countycouncils 27 11 40.7

Londonboroughs 32 6 18.8

EnglishUnitaryAuthorities 55 17 30.9

ScottishUnitaryAuthorities 32 15 46.9

WelshUnitaryAuthorities 22 6 27.3

Alltypes 407 116 28.5

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used.Asaconsequence,onlyafifthofrespondentsin2003believed thattheir LA had ‘access tothebest localestimates of climate change’,whilejust39%reportedfeelingpersonallywellinformed ‘aboutcurrentglobalclimatechangeresearchandfindings’.

Adecadelaterthingsarenowverydifferent(seeFig.1).Just over 70% of LA respondents in 2013 perceived their LA to be ‘probably’or‘definitelywellinformedaboutclimatechange’with thepercentagefeeling‘definitelynotwellenoughinformed’falling from17%in2003tojust2%in2013.Pearson’s

x

2testingshowedno statisticallysignificantrelationshipbetweenhowwellinformed aboutclimatechangetheLAwasreportedtobeandeithertheLA region,type,population,localpartyinpower,orthedepartmentof therespondent.ThissuggestsageneralincreaseinLAknowledge rather than one dependenton particular features like LA size, internalstructure, or political control.LA informants werealso moreconfidentabouttheirownpersonalknowledgethanadecade ago. Whereas2003 survey respondents and interviewees were anxiousabouttheirknowledgeandoftenunawareofhowtoaccess keysourcesofinformationtoimproveit,in2013almostall(96.6%) respondents reported having ‘a great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ of personalknowledgeaboutclimatechange.Thissuggestsamore confidentworkforce.Notsurprisingly,Pearson’s

x

2testingshowed respondentswith‘climate’intheirjobtitlewereverysignificantly more likely than other respondents to report higher levels of personalknowledge(2,n=116,p<0.001),with91.3%knowing‘a greatdealaboutclimatechange’compared with35.5%of those withoutclimate in theirjob title. Otherwise levels of personal knowledge did not vary in statistically significant ways by LA region,type,andpopulation,orbyrespondentseniorityandjob role.

This confidence is underpinned by much more frequent engagementwithofficialscientificsourcesofclimateinformation fromDEFRA,theEnvironmentAgency,andMetOffice(seeFig.2). Whereasin2003theMetOfficewastheleastusedsource,withjust underhalfofallrespondents‘never’referringdirectlytoit,over 80%ofLAssurveyedin2013reported‘always’or‘sometimes’using climateinformationfromtheMetOffice.Comparedto2003,when over40%ofrespondentshadnotheardofUKCIP02thereisnow nearuniversal(91.5%)awarenessofthelatestUKCP09projections. Astrong upswingwasalsorecordedin theuseof otherofficial sourcesaswell.CalculationofSpearman’srankordercorrelation showed strong and statistically very significant associations betweenthe frequencywith which differentofficial sources of information were used, with particularly strong relationships betweentheuseofUKCP09andtheCCRA(r=0.690,p<0.001)and

between useof DEFRA and Environment Agencyas sources of information (r=0.613, p<0.001).In otherwords,LAsusingone official source were also more likely to consult other official sourcesaswell.

PatternsofinformationusagedidnotvarysignificantlybyLA region,type, population, or local party in power, or by theLA departmentandseniorityoftherespondent.Theonlyfactorwe foundtobeassociatedwithanystatisticallysignificantvariationin thetypesofclimateinformationbeingusedwasiftherespondent hadclimateintheirjobtitle,whichPearson’s

x

2testshowedtobe associated witha statistically significant increase in frequency withwhichUKCP09wasused(3,n=116,p=0.034).Whereas69%of theserespondentsreportedalwaysusingUKCP09, only38.7%of otherrespondentsdid.WhilethisfindingseemstoconfirmLGA (2010)suggestionsaboutthevalueofLAsinvestinginspecialist stafftohelpdeliveronadaptation,wefoundnodifferencesinthe frequency withwhich othersources of information or external consultants were used. There were only small, statistically insignificant differences between these specialist climate staff andotherrespondentsinwhethertheyperceivedtheirLAtohave ‘enoughinformationtodecidewhethertheyshouldchangeanyof theirplansorpoliciesbecauseofclimatechange’.

RatherthanLA-specificfactors,frequencyofusagewas more strongly associated with the perceived reliability and ease of understandingofagivensource.Theserelationshipsareshownin Fig.3,which graphstheaverageoftheordinal scoresgiven by respondents to each source for its relative ‘frequency of use’, ‘reliability’ and ‘ease of understanding’. Whereas Demerittand Langdon(2004)foundthatthefrequencywithwhichindividual sources were used related more strongly to their ease of understandingthantotheirperceivedcredibilityor appropriate-ness for LA needs, a decade later frequency was more closely associatedwithperceivedreliabilitywhilsteaseofunderstanding wasgenerallylessimportant.

The strength of these relationships between frequency, reliability and ease of understanding can be assessed by

Fig.2. FrequencyofclimateinformationsourceusagereportedbyLocalAuthority staff,2003(n=169)vs.2013(n=116).

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Spearman’srankcorrelations.Assuggestedbytheproximityofthe lines in Fig. 3, thesethree sourcedimensions are strongly co-varying for the government agencies. The Spearman’s rank correlation,andthusthestrength ofthelinearrelationship,for perceivedreliabilityandfrequencyofusewashighestfortheUK’s previous climate scenarios, UKCIP02, (r=0.667, p<0.001), fol-lowedcloselybytheCCRA(r=0.603,p<0.001).UKCP09,however, wasperceivedsomewhatdifferently, with37.6%describingitas ‘difficult’andanother6%sayingtheydonotunderstanditatall.A weak, albeit still statistically very significant correlation, was foundbetweentheuseofUKCP09anditsperceivedaccessibility (r=0.279,p<0.001).YettheuseofUKCP09wasstronglycorrelated with perceptions of its reliability (r=0.573, p<0.001). This suggeststhatitisusedsomewhatbegrudginglyasadifficultbut ‘correct’sourceofinformation.Forexample,researchbyTangand Dessai(2012)foundthatusabilityofthetoolwasboundupwith ideas about its credibility, and legitimacy, because of the organizationsinvolved in its development,yetit scored poorly onitsrelevancefordecision-making.

ThesefindingssuggestamoresubstantialengagementbyLAs withthe‘right’kindofclimateinformation.Whereasadecadeago, LAofficersreporteddifficultiesinaccessingscientificinformation thattheycouldunderstandandtherefore use,they now report engagingwiththemostreliable,officialsourcesofclimatescience more frequently. Overcoming this informational barrier is a necessary, but by no means sufficient condition for improved understandingof,andadaptationto,climatechange,however.

3.2.Whichclimateimpactsconcernlocalauthorities?

WhileLAsmaynowbemakingmorefrequentuseof official sources, this may not necessarily translate into improved understanding of climate change. To assess LA perceptions of climatechange,weaskedthemtoranktheirlevelofconcernabout avarietyofclimateimpactshighlightedintheCCRA(seeFig.4).Far andawaytheissueofgreatestconcerntoLAstaffisflooding.Heat waveswerealsoaconsistentconcern.Bycontrast,theprospectof warmer and drier summers was seen more ambivalently as a potentialopportunityaswellasarisk,whilewarmerwinterswas theclimatechangeimpactmostoftenseenasanopportunity.

This ranking of climate risks and opportunities broadly mirrored those articulated in the CCRA (see DEFRA, 2012). LA perceptionssometimesdiffered fromtheCCRAintheirrelative rankingofthreats,butthesedifferencestendtoreflecttheabilityof LArespondentstodistinguishbetweenthenational-scalefocusof

theCCRAandlocalpriorities.Thuscoastalfloodingislistedinthe NationalRiskRegisterofCivilEmergenciesasagreaterthreatto theUKasawholethaninlandfloodingfromrainfall-runoffinto riversorfromstormsandgalesleadingtolocalizedsurfacewater flooding(CabinetOffice,2013).ButLArespondentsputtheserisks in a differentrank order. Some29% ofLAs said theimpacts of climatechange onsealevel riseand coastal flooding werenot applicabletothem,becausetheywerelocatedawayfromthecoast and had no immediate responsibilities for dealing with it. By contrast,withthe2010FloodandWaterManagementActgiving LAsresponsibilityasLeadLocalFloodAuthoritiesforsurfacewater flooding, the prospect of more frequent and severe localized floodingfromintenserainfallwasalmostuniversallyregardedasa risk (81% large; 16% small). Apart from the spatiality of risk perceptionsalreadynoted,wherebyLAsintheMidlandstendedto regardcoastalfloodriskasnotlocallyapplicable,theseperceptions of climate risk did not vary significantly by LA region, type, population,localpartyinpower,orbyrespondent-specificfactors like the department of the respondent, seniority, or whether climatewasintheirjobtitle.Pearson’s

x

2testdidshowaweak (Cramer’sV=0.326)but statisticallyverysignificant(10,n=116, p=0.006) association between the respondent’s level of self-describedknowledgeaboutclimatechangeandtheperceivedrisk from heat waves, with 56% of those having ‘a great deal of knowledge’aboutclimatechangealsoperceivingalargerisk,as against35%ofthosehavingjust‘afairamount’.

LA perceptions of future climaterisks were not particularly affectedbyanyrecentexperiencewithclimate-relatedhazards.For example,82.9%ofrespondentshadexperienceddisruptionfrom heavysnowfallinthelastthreeyearsyetonly35%regardeditasa largeriskinyearstocome.Evenmoretellingistheperceptionof heat waves, which, in keeping withtheadvicefrom theCCRA, 43.6% of respondents regarded as a large risk, despite just 6% havinghadanyrecentexperiencewithone.Totesttherelationship betweenriskperceptionandrecentexperienceofclimate-related hazardevents,weaskedrespondentsiftheirLAhadbeenaffected anytimeinthelastthreeyearsbyeachhazardandcross-tabulated thoserespondents(‘yes’,‘no’,‘don’tknow’,‘notapplicable’)against theirperceptions of thefuturerisk posedwith climatechange. Pearson’s

x

2 test showed a moderate (Cramers V=0.416) and statistically very significant (10, n=116, p<0.001) association between recentexperience of especially wetsummers and the respondent’sperceptionoftheriskposedbyclimatechangefrom wet summers in future. Otherwise, there were no statistically significantassociationsbetweenrecentexperience ofa

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relatedhazardandtheperceptionoftheriskthatitwillposein future.ThissuggeststhatLAassessmentoffutureclimateriskis shapedmorebyexpertscientificadviceratherthanrespondingto localexperiences.

Qualitative data from interviews and open-ended survey responseslend furthersupport tothis conclusionthat LA staff nowhaveagoodunderstandingofthelatestofficialscienceadvice on climate change. Many, for instance, could identify its limitations.Ofthe36open-endedresponsestothequestionare there‘anyrisksoropportunitiesnotlisted’,athirdwantedmore informationintheUKclimateprojectionsonthe‘riskofhigher intensityandfrequencyofstorms(Q7,Respondent41),aquarter calledforinformationon‘highwindsaffectingtreefall,building damageandroadtransport,especiallyoverbridgesandexposed roadways’(Q7,Respondent112),andasixthfelttheyneededmore informationon‘unpredictable seasonalvariability’(Q7, Respon-dent52).Wantingmoredetailaboutcertainaspectsoftheclimate projections,LAstaffalsoshowedthetechnicalabilitytodistilthe keyhighlightsandpresenttheminwaysthatweremeaningfulto andusablebyfrontlinestafftheywereresponsibleforadvising withintheirLAswhendesigningheatwaveplansorcoldweather policiesincarehomes,forinstance.Asoneintervieweeexplained: ‘So we took theprojections fromUKCP09 and drilled them down... toproduceourcorporateclimateriskassessment. ...Withparticularstepsfordifferentdepartments,factsheets, guides,etc.fordifferentaudiences... Weusethatassessment becauseit givesus veryspecificinformation about[us]as a county... sowe use[it] ratherthan theoriginal [UKCP09] data,becauseitgivesusaconcrete,‘yesthisistheimplication foryourservice”(LAOfficial9–Interview).

ThesefindingssuggestthatLAstaffarenotonlyaccessingthe ‘right’sourcesofinformationaboutclimatechange,buttheyhave alsodevelopedatechnicallyaccurateandinstitutionallynuanced appreciationof therisks and opportunitiesthat future climate changewillholdfortheirparticularLA.

3.3.Whatadaptationactionshavelocalauthoritiestaken?

LAunderstandingofclimatechangehasclearlyimprovedover thelastdecade,buttranslatingthatunderstandingintoadaptation plansandtangibleactionshasprovenmorechallengingforLAsin Britain.With devolution, the institutional context in which LA adaptationisconductedandmeasuredhasbecomeincreasingly

differentiated.WhilethedevolvedadministrationsinWalesand Scotlandhavesetouttheirownstrategiesandstatutorydutiesand guidanceforLAs(i.e.WelshAssemblyGovernment,2010;2014; Scottish Government2009, 2013), the last Labour Government requiredLAsinEnglandtoreportonadaptationactivitiesaspartof a suite of centralized reporting requirements and targets. Introducedin2007,NationalIndicator188(NI-188)‘Planning to AdapttoClimateChange’,rankedtheperformanceofEnglishLAson afive-pointscale,fromLevel0(yettoassessclimaterisks)toLevel 4(adaptationplanimplementedandprogressbeingmonitored). AlthoughtheCoalitionGovernmentabolishedNI-188in2010as partofitsownlocalistreformoflocalgovernment,datafromthe firsttworoundsofreportingprovidesabroadoverviewofprogress made by English LAs in using climate information to inform adaptationplanningandaction.

By 2010, at least 82% of English LAs had completed the comprehensive local assessment of climate change risks and opportunitiestoreachLevel1(seeFig.5).Ratesofprogresswere generallyslow.Althoughsome40LAsmoveduptwolevelsover thetwoyearsforwhichdataisavailableandone(LondonBorough ofMerton)evenmanagedtomoveupthreelevels,82LAsmadeno demonstrableprogress.MoreoverasFig.5shows,movingbeyond riskassessmenttoidentifyingadaptationresponses(Level2)and developingaplantodeliverthem(Level3)waslimited,withless than40%ofLAsreachingthoselevelsofadaptation,andnoEnglish LAgoingsofarastoactuallyimplementtheiradaptationplansoas toachieveLevel4(seeCommitteeonClimateChange,2010,2012). With the abolition of NI188, it is more difficult to assess progresssince 2010,but several studieshavefoundthatLAsin Englandarestillstrugglingtodevelopandimplementadaptation plans(Brisleyetal.,2012;GreenAlliance,2011;UKCIP,2011).Our findingsconfirmtheseclaimsaboutalackofprogress,orevena reversalinadaptationactivitiesbyLAs.Some90%(18of20)ofthe LAstaffinterviewedtoldusthatadaptationwasbeing depriori-tised in their LA. Half of our interviewees (10 of 20) reported ‘climatechangeofficers[being]maderedundant’or‘reductionsin staffinglevels’(Q16,Respondents19,41).Othersreportedpolicies explicitlydesignedtoaddressclimatechangebeingretracted:

‘Therewasaperiodwhenclimatechangeadaptationwasinour corporateplanandstrategicplans.Butwhenitwasreviewed last year, the powers that be decided that, due to financial constraints, that we should reduce [that] commitment’ (LA Official11–Interview).

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Whereadaptationactivitieshavesurvived,theyweretied to statutoryduties,suchastheformulationofstrategicpolicieson flood risk management or spatial planning. Outside of these statutory requirements ‘the short answer is almost nothing is happening’amongEnglishLAs(LAOfficial18–Interview).

TheevidenceaboutLAadaptationelsewhereinBritainisless clear-cut.OntheonehandScottishrespondentswereunanimous inhighlightingthedistinctivenessoftheScottishsituation.Under theClimateChange(Scotland)Act2009,ScottishLAshavevarious ‘PublicBodiesDuties’,includingresponsibilitytoactinways‘best calculated to deliver any adaptation programme’ (Scottish Government, 2009: 27). Furthermore, Scotlands smaller, more centralisedpolitical system, witha powerfulScottishExecutive basedinEdinburghand32unitaryLAs,makesiteasiertomonitor complianceandprovidesupportinmeetingGovernment objec-tives.Asonerespondentexplained:

‘north of the border our targets are much tighter and the government support for development of adaptation and mitigationarestronger,andIthinkthereisabetterrecognition of the economic benefits of tackling climate change than evidencedbythekneejerkanti-windandanti-renewablesseen inthesouth’(Q15,Respondent45).

Responses from Scottish informants suggested somewhat higher levelsof awarenessof and support for adaptation, both from LA senior managers and from the devolved Scottish Government,thanenjoyedbyLAsinEngland.Ontheotherhand, Scottishresponsesalsosuggestedratherlimitedprogressinactual delivery of adaptation actions. One respondent questioned whetherScottish‘LAsweremakingthebestuseofresources’like AdaptationScotland(Q16,Respondent48);anothersuggestedthat ‘thediscussionswehavehadsofarwithAdaptationScotlandhave notledtoachangeofapproachfromthatwhichwouldhavebeen developed through other policy routes’ (Q16, Respondent 56). Echoing sentiments expressed by LA respondents in England, Scottishinterviewees noted that whilstadaptation‘was on the agendaitremainedverymuchontheback-burnercomparedto mitigation’(LAOfficial8 –Interview).Thesefindings aboutthe ratherhaltingprogressonadaptationinScotlandreplicatethoseof the Committee on Climate Change. Its progress review of adaptationinScotlandraisedconcernsthatcriticalsectors,such asplanningand infrastructure development,werenot properly incorporatingadaptationintolong-termdecision-making (Com-mitteeonClimateChange,2011).Althoughoursmallsamplesize makesitdifficulttoofferdefinitiveconclusionsaboutthestateof adaptationinScotland,theevidencewecollecteddoesnotsuggest radicallygreaterprogressamong ScottishLAsthanamong their Englishcounterparts.

ThesituationinWalesdoesnotlookmuchdifferent.Although theWelshAssemblyGovernmenthasformulatedanAdaptation Delivery Plan and sought to support local authorities with a bespoke adaptationresource, there areno statutoryadaptation dutiesassuch,andprogressinmovingfromassessmenttoaction hasbeenslow,astheWelshAssemblyGovernmentitselfconcedes. Itslatestannualprogressreportonclimatechangenotes,‘Forthe Welshpublicsector,planningforthelongtermrisksofclimate changeis particularly challengingin a short andmedium term environment of financial constraints and austerity’ (Welsh AssemblyGovernment,2013:43).Asoneintervieweeexplained: ‘IknowthattheresalotofworkgoingonaroundtheClimate Change Act and guidance and whatever from the Welsh Assembly. Although at the moment we’re not a statutory reportingauthority.We’rewaitingfortheMinistertoactually setitup.TheMinisterissaying,‘I’mwaitingtoseewhatyoudo,’ andwe’resaying,‘We’rewaitingforyoutotellus.’Becauseofall theotherpriorities,we’retoldthatitwon’thappen’(LAOfficial 18).

Despite some differences among the constituent nations of Britain,themoregeneralpicturethatemergesfromthesefindings isoneofLAsstrugglingtomove,asonesurveyrespondentputit, ‘from the research to the delivery phase’ of adaptation (Q15, Respondent34).

3.4.Whataretheperceivedbarrierstoadaptationforlocal authorities?

WhileLAstaffarenowmuchbetter-informedthanadecadeago andbelieveclimatechangetoposeanumberofseriousrisks,LAs continue tostruggle to implement tangible adaptationactions, despitehavingovercome theawarenessand attitudinalbarriers highlighted by Ekstrom and Moser (2014) as endemic in local adaptation.Tounderstandthevariousinstitutionalbarriersfacing LAs,weaskedthemtoassesstheimportanceofvariousmeasures forpromotingadaptationhighlightedintheliterature(e.g.Adger etal.,2005;DillingandLemos,2011;Hjerpeetal.,2014;Measham etal.,2011).

Farandawaytheleadingbarriertoadaptationwasfunding(see Fig.6), whichover96%of surveyrespondentsranked asa‘very important’or‘fairlyimportant’way ‘fortheGovernmenttohelp LocalAuthoritiesadapttoachangingclimate’.‘Fundinghastobetop ofthelist’,emphasizedonerespondentinafreetextresponse(Q15, Respondent48).Concernsaboutthekindsofclimateinformation availabletoinformLAadaptation weremuchlessimportant.Instead, survey respondents insisted that without ‘more funding’, ring-fencedspecificallyforadaptation,verylittleislikelytohappennow

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oranytimeintheimmediatefuture(Q15,Respondent13).LAsacross Britain are under intense financial strain, having endured the steepestbudgetcutsformorethanhalfacentury(NAO,2014)and nowfacingevenmorestringentcutsoverthenextparliamentwith fiscalretrenchmentforecasttocontinueforanotherhalfdecadeor more (Harris, 2014). Indeed, the National Audit Office recently reportedthat it was growing ‘increasingly concernedabout the futurefinancialsustainabilityofsomeauthoritiesandtheircapacity tomakefurthersavings’(NAO,2014:7).LAstoldustheyhadscaled backtheiradaptationactivities,astheirbudgetshavebeenslashed andclimate-relatedstaffmaderedundant(cf.GreenAlliance,2011). Concernsaboutstafnglevels,whichLArespondentsaggedasthe second most important barrier to adaptation, are thus tightly coupled to concerns about funding. Cross-tabulation analysis showedthat72%ofthosewhoregardedfundingas‘veryimportant’ alsosaidthatthatstaffingwas‘veryimportant’.Pearson’s

x

2test showed this association to be strong (Cramer’s V=0.553) and statisticallyverysignificant(8,n=116,p<0.001).Thisconnection betweenfundingandstaffingwasexplainedatlengthbyasurvey respondent,whowrote:

‘Reductionsinstaffinglevelsinthelasttwoyearshavemeantan inevitablereductioninthetimedevotedtocoordinatedaction on climate change. Looking ahead the impact of central governmentimposedcutsonourlocalauthority’sfunding(a reductionintheremainingbudgetbyathirdoverthreeyears) makesithardertoenvisageanycapacityfornon-statutorywork and difficultiesmeetingstatutoryobligations! Thebest infor-mationintheworldwillmatterverylittleifthere’sno-oneleftto respondtoit!’(Q15,Respondent41,emphasisadded).

Unlike‘coreservicessuchaschildren’ssocialcare’(LAOfficial 19–Interview),adaptation planningisnotastatutory require-mentoutsideofScotland.Asaresultitis‘aneasycutinaneraof cuts’(Q15,Respondent38)asLAshavelookedtoprotectstatutory servicesbycuttingnon-statutoryones,likeadaptation(Asenova etal.,2015)Asoneintervieweeexplained,whilstadaptation is stilla‘priority,it’sjustnotaprioritypriority’anymore(LAOfficial 19–Interview).Thatsentimentwasechoedinthemajorityofour interviews,withsome80%(16of20)ofLAstafftellingusthattheir LA faces ‘more immediate and bigger problems’ than climate change(LAOfficial19–Interview).

To assess the relative priority given to adaptation activities relative to other demands on LA resources, we asked survey respondentstorate thelevelofconcernshownbytheirLAtoa number of societal threats, including the economic downturn,

disruptions to the transport network, large-scale industrial accidents,health-related emergencies,extreme weather events, climate change, and terrorist attacks (see Fig. 7). Pearson’s

x

2 testingshowednostatisticallysignificantvariationinresponsesby LAtype,region,andpopulationorbyrespondent-specificfactors suchasrespondent’sLAdepartment,levelofseniority,orwhether climatewasinthejobrole.Byfarthemostpressingconcernfacing LAs isthe economicdownturn. By contrast,climatechangesat somewhereinthemiddleofthepack,seenasa‘moredistantand less immediate’ societal threat than extreme weather, health-relatedemergencies,ortraveldisruption,whicharegivenahigher priorityintheallocationoflimitedLAresourcesandattention(LA Official18–Interview).

Of the45 open-ended comments aboutbarriers,nearly half (48.9%) highlighted the need for ‘the profile and priority of adaptation’ to be raised if institutional buy-in amongst senior managersandelectedcouncilmemberswastobesecured(Q15, Respondents19).Severalrespondentsattributedthelowpriority given byLAs to adaptationto‘mixed messages’ fromCoalition GovernmentMinistersabouttheircommitmenttotacklingclimate change,wherethey‘sayonethinganddotheexactopposite’,for instance,appointing‘climatechangesceptics[to]keyministerial positionsresponsibleforclimatechangepolicy’(Q15,Respondents 31,72).Some75%(15of20)ofLAstaffinterviewedagreedthatthis politicaluncertaintyplayedintothehandsof‘climatesceptics’in theircouncils‘whoarekeentoblockany spendingon climate-relatedprojects’(LAOfficial14–Interview).

However, respondents from the different home nations of Britainweredividedabouttheimportanceofstatutorydutiesand targetslikeNI-188inovercomingtheseinstitutionalbarriersto adaptation.Nearly half(44.8%)ofEnglish respondentssaidthis wouldbe‘veryimportant’,withafurther28%sayingitwouldbe ‘fairlyimportant’andjust7.2%regardingitas‘unimportant’or‘not applicable’.ForEnglishrespondents,top-downrequirementsand monitoringfromcentralGovernmentwereseenasawayto‘ensure fundingisavailabletoadequatelyresourceadaptationwork’(Q15, Respondents29).EvenifitnolongerdirectlytiedtoBestValue fundingfromcentralGovernment,theexistenceofanindicator gave proponents of adaptation action important leverage in debateswithintheirLAsaboutresourceallocation(Cliffordand Tewdwr-Jones,2013).LAs‘don’twantthereputationalrisk...’,as oneofourintervieweesnoted,‘ofbeingnamedandshamed... for being at the bottom of the league table’ (LA Official 14 – Interview). But with performance on adaptation no longer

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measured,itwasharderforadvocatesofadaptationtowininternal battlesforLAresourceswiththosefromotherdepartmentswhere performancewasmeasuredandwheretheLAmightlookbadifthe budgetwerecut.Asanotherrespondentexplained:

‘thelossofNI188andlackofguidanceordemandfromcentral Governmentmeansthatlocalauthoritiesareundernopressure toplanortakeaction.IfChiefExecswererequiredtoreporton whatactiontheirauthoritywastakingawarenesswouldrise andtheissuewouldbetakenmoreseriously’(Q15,Respondent 29).

TheseconcernsweremuchlessprevalentamongScottishand Welsh respondents, where just 30% of respondents regarded targetsasveryimportant,asagainst35%whoregardedthemas ‘unimportant’ or ‘not applicable’. Pearson’s

x

2 test showed a moderate(Cramer’sV=0.391)andstatisticallyverysignificant(8, n=116, p<0.001) association between the respondentsnation andtheperceivedimportanceofstatutoryduties.While English respondents tended to welcome stronger central Government oversightandstringenttargetstodriveLA adaptation,ifonlyto strengthentheirhandintheinternalstruggleforresources,LAsin WalesandScotlandwereneversubjecttoNI188andsofeltthat adding an ‘extra layer of bureaucracy’ would do very little to promotetangibleadaptationaction (LAOfficial15– Interview). ScottishLAsalreadyhadastatutorydutyandsodidnotneedthe threatofexternalmonitoringtoshoreuptheirpositionininternal resourceallocationargumentswithotherLAdepartments.Rather than empowering adaptation officers in Scotland, external monitoring might expose any failures to deliver on statutory duties imposed by the Scottish Government. In Wales, LAs suggestedit was still ‘tooearly tojudge thebest waytopush adaptation’,asatthetimeofourresearchtheywerewaitingfor guidancetobepublished(LAOfficial11–Interview).

Comparedtofundingissues, thequantity,kind, and relative certaintyofclimateinformationwereregardedbyLAstaffasmuch lessofabarrier(seeFig.6).Aswenotedabove,LAstaffarenow generallyconfidentbothabouttheirownpersonalknowledgeof climatechangeandabouttheabilityoftheirLAtoaccessanduse the‘right’kindofclimatesciencetoinformadaptationplanning and implementation. In this context, concerns about technical jargon and scientific uncertainty so often emphasised in the literature(Biesbroeketal.,2011; Dessaietal.,2009;Lemosand Rood,2010;TribbiaandMoser,2008)wereregardedbyLAofficers assecondaryissues,whichonlyarosefromaperceivedneedto ‘raiseawareness’withinthe‘localcommunity’andamongst‘chief execs’aboutthe‘risksofclimatechange’,ratherthananycognitive challengestheythemselvesinunderstandingthetechnicalitiesof climatescience itself (Q15,Respondents 22, 29). In contrast to uncertaintyandjargon,LAofficerstendedtoperceivethelackof more preciseprojections of future climateimpacts and oppor-tunitiesasasomewhatbiggerbarrier,althoughstillasecondary onerelativetofundingandstaffing.

Qualitativedatafromourinterviewsandopen-endedsurvey responses suggest that what LAs want is not simply more information about climate impacts and opportunities, such as greaterspatialresolutionormoredetailaboutparticular process-es, but also different kinds of impact information, particularly aboutcosts and the monetaryimplications of climate impacts. While80%(16of20)ofLArespondentsreportedthatcompleting theirLocal ClimateImpact Profile (LCLIP)helped them identify weather vulnerable services, the resulting data ‘wasn’t clean data... andtheactualcostsweren’tbeingcollectedasmuchas theycould’(LAOfficial17–Interview).Wewererepeatedlytold about the need for ‘sound, but easy to understand, economic evidencethatislocallyrelevant’or‘informationoncost-benefits’, which can be applied to their business functions (Q15,

Respondents 21, 34).Indeed, several LAs told usthat they had paidconsultantstobuildthemabespokecorporaterisk assess-menttoolto‘workoutthespecificbusinessimplications’andrelay that information in a waythat ‘speakstodifferentdepartment audiences’(LAOfficial9–Interview).Othersdevelopedtheirown systemstoprovideevidenceandcostingstoenablethemtomake thebusinesscaseforadaptation:

‘Ifwehaveasevere weather event,emergencyplanninglogit,and analertgoesouttoallofourservicepartnerstosayaneventhas beenloggedandwhereit’soccurred.Thenthepartnersloginand basicallyinput... howthey’vebeenaffected,howmuchit’scost them,staffdayslost,whetheroodinghasoccurred... [and] howwe’vebeenimpactedreputationallyaswell, wecapture mediainformation... positiveornegativereputationalhits’(LA Official17–Interview).

Translating impacts into costs is important because DEFRA

(2013b) guidance now says LAs shouldonly commit money to

adaptationwhenitmakesbusinesssensetodoso.Asoneofficial explained,‘ifyouwantabusinesscase[foradaptation]youneed the costs’ (LAOfficial17 – Interview).Thus if aninformational barriertoclimateadaptationexistsitisaboutitseconomiccosts andbenefits.Inthiscontext,climateadaptationhasenjoyedthe greatest traction when it has been rebranded as resiliency to extreme weather. Some 80% (16 of 20) of the LA staff we interviewed told us that they try to talk more about weather resiliency than climate adaptation. The language of weather resiliencyhastwoadvantagesoveraclimateadaptationframing (cf. Dewulf,2013).First, it avoidsantagonising climate sceptics whomightotherwiseblockinitiatives.

‘Ithinkpoliticallywith[council]members,ifyouinvitethemto aclimatechangeseminar... noonewillturnup,butifyoucall it ‘making your community more resilient’, ‘protecting your community’, [or] ‘protecting lives and livelihoods’, all those phraseswe’llhaveafarbetterbuy-in.Nowthesubjectmatteris thesame,theobjectivesarethesame,andtheoutcomesarethe same,we’rejustusingadifferentlanguage...’(LAOfficial14– Interview).

Second,resiliencyalsohadbetterbuy-inbecauseitpromisedto deliver immediate benefits here-and-now. Adapting to future climatechange, bycontrast,seemedmoreremoteandthus less salient.WhereasDupuisandKnoepfel(2013)attributethelackof localsaliencyofclimateadaptationframingstothespatialdistance betweenlocalrealitiesandtheinternationalbodieswhoofferthem; ourfindingshighlighttheimportanceoftemporalimmediacytothe appealofaweatherresiliencyframingagainstaclimateadaptation one,apointalsomadebyBierbaumetal.(2013)whoidentified conflictingtimescalesasoneofsevenkeybarrierstoadaptation.

Butevenpromotingweatherresiliencystillrequiresassembling a business case toshow the savings fromany investment will outweigh the costs. For Kent County Council, with its SWIMS system, the headline figure that ‘severe weather events were costing[theLA]£44millionayeartodealwith’,reallyhelpedtoget everyone‘togetherinaroomandtalkaboutwhatkindsofthings we can do to manage it and plan better. Sothat’swhere the adaptationplancamefrom’(LAOfficial17–Interview).Without thatsamefocusonthecostsofweatherimpactsandtheassociated data to make thecase abouttheir importance, otherLAs have struggledtodoaswell.

4.Discussion:informingadaptationandassessingbarriersto action

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2011;MoserandEkstrom,2010;Prestonetal.,2015),forwhich thesolutionisassumedtobemorescientificresearchtoreduce uncertaintiesandprovidepolicy-makerswithafirmerevidence base to inform planning and prioritization. In place of that implicitlylinearmodelofone-waycommunicationtodispelthe ignorance (Demeritt and Nobert, 2014), recent work in social science increasingly frames the challenges of bridging the science-policyasatwo-wayproblem.Policyparalysiscanarise frombothsupply-sidefailurestodeliverclimatesciencethatis policy-relevantandusable foradaptation (Hangeret al.,2013), andfromdemand-sidefailuresbypolicy-makerstounderstand thescienceor tospecifywhatwould beusableand thus what actuallygetsusedtoinformadaptation (Dilling&Lemos2011; Lemosetal.,2012).

A decade ago, there was clearevidence in Britain for what Lemosetal.(2012)termedthe‘climateinformationusabilitygap’. LAstaff struggledtofindscientificinformation that theycould understand, and they lacked much in the way of a planning frameworkinwhichtheycoulduseclimatesciencetoidentifyrisks or prioritize measures for dealing with them (Demeritt and Langdon,2004).Inresponse,theUKGovernmentinvestedinnew, more policy-focused adaptation science, such as new finer resolutionanduncertaintyexplicitclimateprojections(UKCP09) andanationalrisk assessment(CCRA),aswellasinknowledge brokerage including UKCIP, the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Programme, and the regional climate partnerships, to deliverclimatesciencethatismoreaccessibleto,and understand-ableby,LAs.Thefindingspresentedinthispapershowthatthese investmentshavelargelyovercometheinformationalaccessand cognitiveunderstandingbarriersidentifiedadecadeago(Demeritt andLangdon,2004).LAstaffnowengagemorefrequentlywiththe ‘right’kindofclimateinformationandarebothmoreconfidentand competentinunderstandingtherisksthatclimatechangeholdsfor them.Whilesomequestionsstillremainabouthowwidelythat knowledgeisdistributed within LAsbeyond thesmallcadre of officerswithimmediateresponsibilityforadaptationplanningthat westudied,itisclearthatclimateinformationisnolongeramajor barriertoadaptationinBritishLAs.

Nevertheless,betterinformationhasnotleadtomuchtangible adaptation action. Compared to a decade ago, when very few British LAs were even making adaptationplans (Demeritt and Langdon,2004;Tompkinsetal.,2010),therehasbeenprogressin planning,spurredonbytop-downtargetsandclosemonitoringof LAperformanceunderthelastLabourGovernment.However,our researchshowsthatLAsinBritainarestrugglingtomovebeyond planningtoimplementation.Thesefindingschallengethecurrent Government’sexpectationthatadaptation‘shouldoccurnaturally andwithoutthegovernment’sintervention’(para11),onceithas overcome the informational barriers that ‘make it hard for [organizations& individuals]toplan rationally’(DEFRA, 2013c: 67).Likethewiderliteratureontheusabilityofclimatescience moregenerally(Dilling andLemos,2011; Kirchhoffetal.,2013; Lemos et al., 2012), the UK Government’s National Adaptation Programme is focused on the supply and delivery of climate information,treatingitsusabilityandrelevanceasfixed character-istics of the science itself (DEFRA, 2013b), rather than as the institutionally situated outcome of political struggles over its meaningandlocalapplication.

The difficulties we document with adaptation by local governmentarenotuniquetoBritain.Studiesofmunicipal-level adaptationinavarietyofcountrieshaveidentifiedsimilarfailings, which have been attributed to a variety of different barriers includingweakor inconsistent, political leadership (Amunsden etal.,2010;Burch2010;Hardoyetal.,2014;Hjerpeetal.,2014); institutionalfragmentationorlimitations(Biesbroeketal.,2011; Ekstrom&Moser2014;Meashametal.,2011; Mukheibiretal.,

2013)andinadequate,orunreliable,funding(Barnettetal.,2015; Crabbé&Robin2006;Eisenacketal.,2014;Moser&Ekstrom2010). What our longitudinal approach contributes is a controlled analyticalframeworkfortestingtheimportanceofthesebarriers over time and the impacts upon them of different policy interventions.Casestudyresearchoftenpointstotheimportance of political leadership in the success of adaptation initiatives (Amunsdenetal.,2010;Burch2010;Hardoyetal.,2014;Hjerpe

et al., 2014). Whereas some studies bemoan the absence of

leadership bylocally elected officials as anexplanation for the failure of municipal-level adaptation (Amunsden et al., 2010; Meashametal.,2011),othershavenotedhowtop-downmandates fromregionalandnationallevelsofgovernmentcanimpedelocal initiative(Burch2010;Crabbé&Robin2006).Ourresearchoffers evidenceforbotheffects.LAofficersfrequentlycomplainedofa ‘lackofvision’(Q16,Respondent67)and‘leadershipintackling climatechange’(Q16,Respondent33)andofelectedmembersand chiefexecutives‘buryingtheirheadinthesandreclimatechange’ (Q15,Respondent73).Despiteinsistingthatlocaladaptation‘very muchdependsonhavinga‘champion’topromotetheseissuesasa corporatepriority’(Q16,Respondent38),LAofficersoftenlooked tothenationallevelforleadershipratherthanexpectingittoarise locally. While this tendency tolookfor top-down supportwas reinforced by LA disappointment about ‘central government imposedcutsonourlocalauthority’sfunding’(Q16,Respondent 39) and the removal of NI-188 in England, it also reflects a longstandingsenseaboutwherethelocusofresponsibilitylies.In the2003LAsurvey,56%ofrespondentshad agreedthatcentral Governmenthasprimaryresponsibilityformanagingclimaterisks withtherestseeingitassomehowshared(Demeritt&Langdon 2004).By2013,thepercentageofrespondentsseeingitasashared responsibilityhadgrownto73%,butaquarterstillattributed‘total responsibility’tocentralGovernment.Theseattitudesreflectthe centralizedstructureoftheBritishstate,whichlimitsthescopefor LAstosetthepoliticalagendaorexerciseleadershipinotherways. Institutionalfragmentationisanotheroften-citedbarrierwhere theresponsibility for adaptationplanningis separatedfrom its delivery(Ekstrom&Moser2014;Meashametal.,2011)orpoor coordination between different levels of government impedes adaptationaction(Biesbroeketal.,2011;Mukheibiretal.,2013). Againour researchprovides evidencefor both these problems. Withdevolution,thepatternofLAadaptationacrossBritainhas becomemoreheterogeneousandcomplex.Whereasthedevolved administrationsinScotlandandWalesareassertingmorecentral controltosteerLAadaptationinlinewiththeirdifferentnational strategies,centralGovernmentisnowpursuingalocalistagenda for England.The Coalition-ledGovernmenthasbeenmuch less involvedincentrallyoverseeingLAadaptationthantheprevious Labour administrations.Thedesireof LAofficersin Englandfor more statutory duties and performance targets from central Governmentislesspuzzlingifunderstoodasaresponsetothis de-couplingandfragmentationatboththenationalandlocallevels. EnglishLArespondentsfeltthatlocalmomentumforadaptation waslostwiththeremovalofNI-188.Withthedismantlingofthe auditandaccountabilityregimebywhichtheLabourGovernment had sought to ensure local delivery of its policygoals, LAs in Englandarenowfreetodowhatevertheywantonadaptation.The problemis:many arechoosing to do nothingat all.Top-down targetsareonewaytoaddressthisde-couplingoflocalpractice fromthegoalsofthenationalstrategy.Buttheyarealsopopular with LA climate officers because they can help to address institutional fragmentation within their own LAs. A statutory adaptationduty wouldprovideclimateofficerswithleveragein internalstrugglesoverresourceallocation.

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Crabbé and Robin, 2006; Eisenack et al., 2014; Moser and Ekstrom,2010).InBritain,afterfiveyearsofbudgetcutsbythe CoalitionGovernment(2010–2015),LAshavefewresourcesand struggling to even deliver the immediate services required of them by law. Their outlook has become more reactive and short-term. Without ‘more funding’ (Q15, Respondent 13) specifically ring-fenced for adaptation, longer-terminvestment aimedatadaptingtofutureclimatechangewillremainamuch lower priority compared to more immediate risks faced here andnow.Ourresearchdoesshowthepotentialmileage,inera of fiscalrestraint and climateskepticism, of overcoming these barriers toadaptation byreframing it as resiliencytoextreme weather(seeDewulf,2013).For thisvulnerability assessments ofcriticalthresholdsandcostsofnear-termstrategiesaremore relevant than probabilistic futures of the climate in 2080s (Dessai et al., 2009). If our LA respondents are keen to have moreinformation abouttheeconomiccostsof severeweather, itis not simplybecausetheir LAsneed‘toaccountfor thefull costsandbenefitsof alladaptationoptions’(DEFRA,2013c:2); information about costs is a crucial resource for them in the internal battles within LAs to secure the resources and institutional license todoadaptation.

5.Conclusion

Weprovidefreshempiricalevidencethatadaptationbarriers are not fixedbut change over time.Answering Eisenack et al. (2014)rallyingcall,weshowhowadaptationbarriersevolveso thatwecanbetterunderstand whytheyemerge,howtheycan beovercome,andwhysomebecomeendemic(seeEkstromand Moser2014; Vogeland Henstra, 2015).Whereas accessto,and understanding of, climate information was a major stumbling block in building the wider capacity necessary to adapt to climatechangeinBritainin2003(DemerittandLangdon2004), nowthe adaptivecapacityof LAsis vulnerabletobudgetcuts. Asclimateposts,andtheexpertise theyoffertoLA serviceson care,housingandschooling,islost.Howthesebarrierscometo affectandoffseteachother,goesbeyondearlyworkonadaptive capacity (Smit et al., 2001; Yohe and Tol, 2002); and instead draws on more social science inspired work on the wider institutional,political,attitudinal andfinancial barriers (Moser and Ekstrom, 2010), and different kinds of adaptive capacity: ‘generic’ human development capacities such as financial and human resources, and those ‘specific’ to climate adaptation including disaster planning, insurance funds, and scenario development(seeEakinetal.,2014).Inthiscontext,theability of municipal-level officials to develop the specific capacity necessary to understand and use the ‘right’ kind of climate information will be of little benefit as long as the generic capacity tofundadaptation is lacking.

Acknowledgements

ThisresearchwassupportedbytheEuropeanResearchCouncil (ERC)undertheEuropeanUnion’sSeventhFrameworkProgramme for Research (FP7/2007–2013), ERC Grant agreement 284369. SurajeDessaialsoacknowledgesthesupportoftheUKEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP). We aregrateful toAnn Swiftwhomanagedthesurveymailinglistandtoeveryonewho participatedinthisstudyandsharedhisorherexperienceswith us.StavrosAfionis,LukaszErecinski,PhilHendy,FeliciaLui,Maeve McLoughlin,HenryRothstein,MurielBonjeanStanton,SamTang, DominicWay,andGeoffWhitmancommentedonanearlierdraft, buttheauthorsaloneareresponsibleforanyremainingerrorsof factorinterpretation.

AppendixA.Supplementarydata

Supplementarydataassociatedwiththisarticlecanbefound,in theonline version, athttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015. 10.004.

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