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Analysing citizen’s adaptive capacity: – Individual adaptation strategies in Helsingborg, Sweden before, during and after the Advent Storm in 2011

Lindblad, Joakim LU (2012) MVEM30 20121
Studies in Environmental Science
Abstract
Climate change is predicted to lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of climate extremes and variability (IPCC 2007). The result is an increase in climate-related disasters in a world where, even without climate change, the number of disasters is already on the rise (UNISDR 2010). Also Sweden will be severely affected by climate change as temperatures are expected to rise more in Northern Europe than in the Mediterranean area, and precipitation patterns are expected to change (ibid.). Sweden is a high-income nation with a history of strong governmental institutions. The country is therefore considered to be less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions than many other countries, and able to adapt to a changing climate in an... (More)
Climate change is predicted to lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of climate extremes and variability (IPCC 2007). The result is an increase in climate-related disasters in a world where, even without climate change, the number of disasters is already on the rise (UNISDR 2010). Also Sweden will be severely affected by climate change as temperatures are expected to rise more in Northern Europe than in the Mediterranean area, and precipitation patterns are expected to change (ibid.). Sweden is a high-income nation with a history of strong governmental institutions. The country is therefore considered to be less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions than many other countries, and able to adapt to a changing climate in an efficient way. However, in order to be effective, climate change must be addressed at all levels of society, from the institutional level and all the way down to the individuals and households of a community (UNISDR 2005). This understanding challenges the image of Sweden as being a country of low climate vulnerability as the adaptation capacities of individuals and households have, as yet, neither been well understood nor evaluated. In fact, the Swedish Commission for Climate Vulnerability identified the lack of information on individual’s adaptive capacities as an important knowledge gap (SOU 2007:60). Against this background, the aim of this thesis is to identify what measures, or adaptation strategies, individuals take to improve their own adaptation capacity. Potential barriers that hinder the individuals from taking further measures are also analysed in the study. This is crucial in the face of new research, which has found that adaptation strategies at different levels often tend to interfere with each other, rather than support each other (Wamsler 2007). The study is focused on an analysis of the city of Helsingborg in southern Sweden and, more specifically, its inhabitants’ measures and strategies taken before, during, and after a severe winter storm in late 2011. A literature review was carried out and structured interviews held with individuals in the study area. The results of the study show that the majority of the interviewees have taken little or no action to prevent, mitigate, or prepare for the event. An exception to this is disaster insurance, which was identified as the most commonly used adaptation strategy. Apart from this, adaptation strategies were mainly ad-hoc and came as a direct response to the storm. The reasons for this were, amongst other issues, the lack of pre-disaster information on (a) the potential severity of the storm and (b) what individuals can do to minimize potential impacts. In addition to this, also the strong belief in hierarchical structures was identified as a key barrier hindering people from taking more actions themselves. Individuals either thought that authorities had sufficient capacity to handle the situation, or they were afraid of interfering with the authorities’ work or the law. Lack of cooperation between neighbouring households and between households and institutions was also identified as a barrier for adaptation. The results of this study are to some extent in accordance with earlier research from other areas (e.g. Wamlser & Lawson 2012), showing the urgent need of finding models for better supporting people’s adaptive capacities and complementing institutional efforts with local-level efforts for adaptation. (Less)
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author
Lindblad, Joakim LU
supervisor
organization
course
MVEM30 20121
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
3469589
date added to LUP
2013-02-18 10:51:34
date last changed
2013-04-02 14:40:53
@misc{3469589,
  abstract     = {Climate change is predicted to lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of climate extremes and variability (IPCC 2007). The result is an increase in climate-related disasters in a world where, even without climate change, the number of disasters is already on the rise (UNISDR 2010). Also Sweden will be severely affected by climate change as temperatures are expected to rise more in Northern Europe than in the Mediterranean area, and precipitation patterns are expected to change (ibid.). Sweden is a high-income nation with a history of strong governmental institutions. The country is therefore considered to be less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions than many other countries, and able to adapt to a changing climate in an efficient way. However, in order to be effective, climate change must be addressed at all levels of society, from the institutional level and all the way down to the individuals and households of a community (UNISDR 2005). This understanding challenges the image of Sweden as being a country of low climate vulnerability as the adaptation capacities of individuals and households have, as yet, neither been well understood nor evaluated. In fact, the Swedish Commission for Climate Vulnerability identified the lack of information on individual’s adaptive capacities as an important knowledge gap (SOU 2007:60). Against this background, the aim of this thesis is to identify what measures, or adaptation strategies, individuals take to improve their own adaptation capacity. Potential barriers that hinder the individuals from taking further measures are also analysed in the study. This is crucial in the face of new research, which has found that adaptation strategies at different levels often tend to interfere with each other, rather than support each other (Wamsler 2007). The study is focused on an analysis of the city of Helsingborg in southern Sweden and, more specifically, its inhabitants’ measures and strategies taken before, during, and after a severe winter storm in late 2011. A literature review was carried out and structured interviews held with individuals in the study area. The results of the study show that the majority of the interviewees have taken little or no action to prevent, mitigate, or prepare for the event. An exception to this is disaster insurance, which was identified as the most commonly used adaptation strategy. Apart from this, adaptation strategies were mainly ad-hoc and came as a direct response to the storm. The reasons for this were, amongst other issues, the lack of pre-disaster information on (a) the potential severity of the storm and (b) what individuals can do to minimize potential impacts. In addition to this, also the strong belief in hierarchical structures was identified as a key barrier hindering people from taking more actions themselves. Individuals either thought that authorities had sufficient capacity to handle the situation, or they were afraid of interfering with the authorities’ work or the law. Lack of cooperation between neighbouring households and between households and institutions was also identified as a barrier for adaptation. The results of this study are to some extent in accordance with earlier research from other areas (e.g. Wamlser & Lawson 2012), showing the urgent need of finding models for better supporting people’s adaptive capacities and complementing institutional efforts with local-level efforts for adaptation.},
  author       = {Lindblad, Joakim},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Analysing citizen’s adaptive capacity: – Individual adaptation strategies in Helsingborg, Sweden before, during and after the Advent Storm in 2011},
  year         = {2012},
}