Adaptation planning offers a promising approach for identifying and devising solutions to address local climate change impacts. Yet there is little empirical understanding of the content and quality of these plans. We use content analysis to evaluate 44 local adaptation plans in the United States and multivariate regression to examine how plan quality varies across communities. We find that plans draw on multiple data sources to analyse future climate impacts and include a breadth of strategies. Most plans, however, fail to prioritize impacts and strategies or provide detailed implementation processes, raising concerns about whether adaptation plans will translate into on-the-ground reductions in vulnerability. Our analysis also finds that plans authored by the planning department and those that engaged elected officials in the planning process were of higher quality. The results provide important insights for practitioners, policymakers and scientists wanting to improve local climate adaptation planning and action.
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We would like to thank our dissertation committees—T. BenDor (UNC), P. Berke (TAMU), R. Bierbaum (UM), L. Hoey (UM), P. Jagger (UNC), L. Larsen (UM), M. Lemos (UM), L. Moore (UNC) and G. Smith (UNC)—who provided support and extensive friendly review. Partial financial support for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Woodruff, S., Stults, M. Numerous strategies but limited implementation guidance in US local adaptation plans. Nature Clim Change 6, 796–802 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3012
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