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Socially Just Adaptation to Climate Change Rachel Brisley, JBA Consulting. Climate Justice: Local Impacts and Actions - CLASP Salvation Army Centre, Preston 16 October 2012. Who’s Who?. Report was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

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Socially just adaptation to climate change rachel brisley jba consulting

Socially Just Adaptation to Climate ChangeRachel Brisley, JBA Consulting

Climate Justice: Local Impacts and Actions - CLASP

Salvation Army Centre, Preston

16 October2012

Who s who
Who’s Who?

  • Report was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

  • Authored by SQW, working with Professor Jouni Paavola

  • Findings presented by Rachel Brisley, JBA Consulting (previously SQW)

  • Study directed by Jean Welstead, SLR Consulting (previously SQW)

Structure of the presentation
Structure of the presentation

  • Introduction to the study

  • What is socially just adaptation?

  • Policy drivers

  • Local authority progress

  • Case study lessons

  • Conclusions & recommendations

Introduction to the study
Introduction to the study

  • Objectives

    • Explore existing approaches to local adaptation to climate change impacts & how these take account of social justice

    • Support the development of just local responses to climate change by making recommendations for policy & practice

  • Methodology

    • Theoretical review of social justice in relation to adaptation

    • Survey of local authorities to assess progress with just adaptation

    • 3 case studies - Highlands, Islington, York

    • Broader review of adaptation practice elsewhere, including the use of adaptation tools

What is socially just adaptation
What is socially just adaptation?

  • Adaptation means changing our behaviour to respond to both the projected and current impacts of climate change

  • Need to understand who is vulnerable (to climate change impacts) & how their needs will be met

  • Social issues related to adaptation are diverse & contextually specific

  • Procedural justice

    • empowering communities to become involved in decision-making

  • Distributive justice

    • distribution of income, assets & opportunities

Just adaptation principles
Just adaptation principles

1) Build in current & future climate change impacts

2) Understand factors that contribute to vulnerability

3) Identify distribution of vulnerability – not a static state

4) Involve those communities most likely to be affected

5) Understand impacts & target activities

6) Develop a full range of responses

7) Be aware of trade-offs

8) Assess all adaptation options to select optimal choice

Policy drivers
Policy drivers

  • UK Government – climate change adaptation is a high priority but expects activity to be driven locally

    • Challenging in climate of public sector funding cuts

  • Not just a local authority responsibility

    • Environment Agency, SEPA, NIEA, Single Body

    • NHS/Public Health bodies, transport providers & private sector

    • Emergency services, housing associations & third sector

  • Most policies refer to social justice implications but . . .

    • Narrow interpretation – focus on spatial vulnerability & health

    • Social vulnerability generally not taken into account & procedural justice not investigated

Local authority review findings
Local authority review & findings

  • Review undertaken (spring 2011)

    • NI 188 data, reviewed plans at Level 2 or 3 (2009/10), comparison with LGG Survey (2010)

  • Findings

    • 36 completed plans

    • Significant variety – content, detail & progress

    • Research activities dominated

    • Lots of action focused on drainage & water management

    • Achievement of Level 3 status was low

Local authority review findings cont
Local authority review & findings (cont.)

  • Power to respond in number of ways including housing, planning & building control

  • 2/3 of plans considered physical vulnerability

  • Impacts upon different groups of residents not differentiated

  • Refit of social housing stock included

  • Around 25% considered equality & impacts of adaptation/ mal-adaptation

  • LAs keen to embed socially just climate change adaptation, but current constraints mean it is difficult to prioritise

Recent context
Recent context

  • Green Alliance Report (Nov 2011)

  • 65% of LAs – climate change less of a priority than previously

  • Potential to increase priority locally

  • CCRA, NAP, Local Nature Partnerships, Localism, neighbourhood planning, transfer of public health to LAs, economic arguments

Case studies highland islington york summary findings
Case studies – Highland, Islington, York: summary findings

  • Need for socially just adaptation accepted & welcomed

  • Building adaptive capacity evident in corporate plans & strategies, but . . .

    • Driven by climate change officers, less evidence in other services

    • Just adaptation best achieved through responses targeted at & developed with vulnerable communities

    • Technical, GIS solutions useful for mapping vulnerability

    • Care needs to be taken re: blight & data protection

    • National priority for climate change adaptation not reflected at local level

    • But action needs to be taken locally - consider language, economic arguments & role of others – not sole responsibility of LAs


  • Adaptation Plan refers to differential impacts, vulnerability, equality/equity & community engagement

  • Gairloch Community Adaptation Plan

  • HC community workshops highlighted a number of actions for voluntary organisations working with vulnerable groups:

    • to work with emergency services, not just for service provision, but also for providing clear information on what to do in an emergency

    • to regularly review who in the community could be vulnerable to extreme weather

    • care home managers to consider the location of their sites and evacuation procedures


  • Impact that increased temperature could have on health has been identified as a particular issue for Islington

  • Cross-departmental Adaptation Board

  • Cross-Borough Adaptation Group

  • Risk assessment of the Adaptation Strategy

  • Action Plan

  • Equalities Impact Assessment of the Adaptation Strategy

  • Good Practice Guides

  • Cool-It presentations

Islington adapting to high temperatures reduced rainfall
Islington – adapting to high temperatures & reduced rainfall

The Rainsponge Project: fitting out the paved courtyard of a community centre has reduced seasonal flooding and encouraged centre users to use the outdoor space

Rainwater garden

York rainfall

  • Corporate commitment to climate change adaptation

    • Climate change plan refresh (2013) will have greater focus on social justice & needs of vulnerable communities

  • Local Plan Core Strategy

    • supportive policies

  • First Call 50+ & Hotspots campaign

    • referral to support services for vulnerable people

  • Adaptation planning in collaboration with local travellers

  • Specific adaptation examples

    • Temporary bridge to social housing

    • Raised sockets in care homes

Conclusions rainfall

  • Socially just adaptation is complex & requires working with multiple partners

  • Greater profile nationally than locally

  • Climate change impacts largely accepted, but action focused on emergency responses

  • Social justice taken into account to a degree, but focuses on spatial vulnerability & health

  • More needs to be done - share good practice, encourage commitment & action, work with communities & enable effective delivery

  • Opportunities exist to progress socially just adaptation

  • Trade-offs between costs & benefits not highlighted - central to embedding just adaptation NAP!

Recommendations rainfall

  • Education & communication including use of language, understanding the agenda, opportunities & negative impacts

  • Mainstreaming socially just adaptation across Government, national organisations, local authorities & other local bodies

  • Collaborative working at local & national levels but with a clear definition of roles & responsibilities

  • Involvement of vulnerable communities in the development & delivery of climate change adaptation to embed social justice

  • Sharing knowledge & best practice to address varied standards of adaptation across the UK & engender collective improvement

Contact details
Contact details rainfall

Rachel Brisley

Technical Director

JBA Consulting

01925 570 876

[email protected]