How are coastal households responding to climate change?

Carmen E. Elrick-Barr, Timothy F. Smith, Benjamin L. Preston, Dana C. Thomsen, Scott Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia, shared responsibility is a concept advocated to promote collective climate change adaptation by multiple actors and institutions. However, a shared response is often promoted in the absence of information regarding actions currently taken; in particular, there is limited knowledge regarding action occurring at the household scale. To address this gap, we examine household actions taken to address climate change and associated hazards in two Australian coastal communities. Mixed methods research is conducted to answer three questions: (1) what actions are currently taken (mitigation, actions to lobby for change or adaptation to climate impacts)? (2) why are these actions taken (e.g. are they consistent with capacity, experience, perceptions of risk); and (3) what are the implications for adaptation? We find that households are predominantly mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and that impact orientated adaptive actions are limited. Coping strategies are considered sufficient to mange climate risks, proving a disincentive for additional adaptive action. Influencing factors differ, but generally, risk perception and climate change belief are associated with action. However, the likelihood of more action is a function of homeownership and a tendency to plan ahead. Addressing factors that support or constrain household adaptive decision-making and action, from the physical (e.g. homeownership) to the social (e.g. skills in planning and a culture of adapting to change) will be critical in increasing household participation in adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


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