Key results from subprojects (November 2011)


Subproject 1: Contexts for Climate Change Adaptation in Norway

Activities in Sub-project 1 for the period September 2010-september 2011 have continued to benefit from the synergies between NORADAPT and other ongoing projects at CICERO, including CAVIAR (Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in Arctic Regions), and NORADAPT (Adaptation and Vulnerability in Norwegian Municipalities). PLAN research has focused on the analysis of fieldwork in Vestvågøy and meetings with municipalities within the NORADAPT context. A NORADAPT seminar in November brought partners together in discussions and presentations of experiences with use of scenarios of climate changes and social change in their respective municipalities. Research visits to Canada’s north, Greenland and Lovozero on the Kola Peninsula in Russia in the context of CAVIAR have contributed to PLAN through increased insights on the context-dependency of climate change adaptation.

Climate variability and change are projected to affect communities through impacts on infrastructure, and the timing, profitability, and viability of local primary production and harvesting activities. Earlier results indicated that communities do not perceive climate change as an immediate threat alongside more pressing concerns such as outmigration, jobs, and the social and economic viability of communities, suggesting that communities are unlikely to take anticipatory adaptive measures to climate change. Recent results indicate an improved understanding of the relevance of climate change and scenarios within various sectors in each municipality. The larger municipalities in particular have managed to transform the information, understanding and experiences gained through the project into action plans, risk analysis solutions and other measures, indicating that the project has had direct impacts. The smaller municipalities, however, experience that resources are not sufficient and see themselves forced to maintain a focus on other urgent matters. The sub project participants are in the process of submitting a chapter to the PLAN synthesis book. Outreach and public information on PLAN-related issues continues in form of articles, a final NORADAPT seminar in October 2011 which will summarize and conclude the findings of the NORADAPT project, and an article in a national newspaper about the lack of incorporation of knowledge in assessments that are being carried out for preparing offshore oil and gas exploration outside Lofoten and Vesterålen.

Subproject 2: The Process of Local Adaptation: Institutional Learning, Networks and Local Knowledge

From 2010 to 2011, activities within this sub-project have focused on further data analysis and writing of scientific publications. Recent analysis focuses on how local understandings of climate change and threats to livelihoods create potential for and limits to adaptation to climate change. One would expect that a country like Norway, that has economic resources, institutional strength, and well established local and national democratic processes, would demonstrate responses to climate change that are well planned and that supportive of affected interest groups in the face of climate change. However, even within a relatively small community, climate change means very different things to different groups, depending in part on their worldviews and the multiple stressors that they face. These different understandings translate into very different actions.

In Øystre Slidre, three very different worldviews can be distinguished. The first, dominant among policy makers and some politicians, focuses on the potential threat of population and economic decline in the face of structural economic changes in Norway, with climate change as an insignificant factor. The second, dominant among some farmers, focuses on the threat to livelihoods and cultural identity from the combination of declining producer prices in agriculture, local prioritisation of tourism needs over farmer needs, dependence on government policies, and environmental change. The third, prevalent among some farmers who increasingly rely on off-farm incomes, focuses on threats to local economic activities from government regulations and potential environmental and climate policies. There is intense strategising and negotiations between these diverse, and sometimes conflicting, interests and related actions, with the dominant interests shaping particular development paths. Household and community efforts interact with processes at several scales to produce unpredictable, and sometimes unintended, adaptation outcomes. The result is a much messier and less transparent and ‘benign’ adaptation outcome than we often like to imagine. In particular, the combination of a development path dependent on growing tourism investments and a perception that climate change is insignificant in Øystre Slidre--but that environmental policies imposed by the central government may limit tourism development-- limit climate responses. However, at the same time, a strong tradition of local entrepeneurship and creativity, local ecological knowledge as well as pride in management of the cultural landscape provide a potential for adaptation and transformation in the face of outside pressures such as climate change. These findings underscore the need to ground climate policies in local aspirations and understandings of how threats to these aspirations can be met, rather than producing blanket measures from above that are perceived as an additional threat to achieving local aspirations.

Subproject 3: New Public Management and the Energy Sector’s Ability to Adapt to Climate Change

Datainnhentingen er stort sett ferdigstilt for begge casene Norge og Sverige, og analyse gjennomført, og publisert for en av casene. Funnene kan oppsummeres med at de gjennomførte NPM-reformene i Norge og Sverige har ført til klart forskjellige resultater når det gjelder tilpasningskapasitet til klimaendringene.

For Norges del har reformen i 1991 ført til en radikal endring i formell struktur (reguleringer og institusjonelt formelt samspill) og bransjekultur. Disse spiller sammen om å svekke tilpasningskapasitet i den norske kraftbransjen. Reguleringsregimet som ble innført etter reformen førte til en effektivisering av nettselskapene, men med bieffekter som investeringstørke og høy terskel for å gjennomføre tiltak som for eksempel øker robustheten til nettet mot værhendelser. Kulturendringene i bransjen har vært store, og trekker i samme retning. Fra en ingeniørtankegang der kostnaden kom i andre rekke etter systemets funksjon og leveringssikkerhet har bransjekulturen endret seg til å bli vesentlig mer økonomifokusert. Beslutninger begrunnes i lønnsomhet. Dette øker effektiviteten, men fører til mer kortsiktige løsninger og reduserer evnen til nettselskapene til å gjennomføre tilpasninger til klimaendringer.

Sverige har gjennomgått tilsvarende reformer som i Norge, men med mindre radikale endringer, både i formell struktur og i bransjekultur. Dette har ført til et større rom for tilpasningstiltak. Et konkret eksempel på forskjellene i tiltak mellom Norge og Sverige er nedgraving av distribusjonsnettet. Svenskene har gjennomført et kostbart og omfattende program der deler av distribusjonsnettet legges i kabler. Dette tiltaket gjøres etter erfaringer med værhendelser, som det også forventes mer av i fremtiden. Tilsvarende tiltak er svært vanskelig å få gjennomført i Norge fordi det anses som ikke lønnsomt.

Subproject 4: Adaptation and Mitigation in Urban Planning and Waterfront Development

This sub-project has studied how three different forms of coordination – coordination through networks, hierarchical structures and the market mechanism – contribute to climate change adaptation in five Norwegian cities. Adaptation to climate change is increasingly being integrated in urban planning, although the awareness of the problem varies considerably between the studied cities. Being part of formal and informal climate networks contributes to raise awareness. However, since such networks have little or no power to implement specific regulations or measures, little happen before the hierarchical system in which the various actors in urban development are situated, give specific orders or directives. Because of the perceived uncertainty of the local consequences of climate change, governmental bodies at all levels are reluctant to demand specific measures to be taken, and climate adaptation as a policy field seems to be underdeveloped due to the lack of governmental directives. Moreover, there is an uncertainty regarding who is responsible for climate change adaptation, and all actors in urban planning tend to point at each other: the developers wait for the city council to pose specific demands whereas the city council waits for directives from the national government which in turn perceive climate change adaptation as a local responsibility. Since there is no demand for climate change-adapted buildings, the market mechanism does not yet lead developers to take specific adaptive measures either.

Subproject 5: Assessing the Limits to Adaptation and Consequences for Human Security

This sub-project has focused on the role of subjective values as an influence on adaptation responses and prioritized actions. The research based on a mixed methodology known as Q methodology has continued, and after a series of pilot-tests, the Q sort is currently being distributed to those who participated in the interviews. A prototype for a digital version of the Q sort was tested during the Forskningstorget, and will be further developed so that it can be made available as an interactive program. The results from pilot studies have been used to identify four preliminary “attitudes” on climate change and adaptation, which have been summarized as follows and will be assessed and revised when the final results are available (and when the factor analsys has been interpreted):

1. Climate change is not a problem. The climate may be changing, but it always has changed and it always will change – human activities do not make a difference. We have always adapted and I am confident that we will adapt in the future . Meanwhile, there are other more important issues to worry about!

2. Climate change may be real, but it is hard to know for sure – there is so much natural variability. It is probably best to wait and see before we commit to changes that will affect our economy. If it really was a concern, I think our leaders would be taking it more seriously!

3. Humans are contributing to climate change and that is a concern. Norway can play an important role by providing new technology and resources to help people to adapt. We can manage change if the economic and social incentives are right. It is important to recognize that Norway will also experience many benefits from warmer temperatures.

4. Human-induced climate change is a threat that must be taken seriously -- it has implications for everyone and for all species. It is about equity and solidarity with others, including future generations. Individuals can make a difference, but the real changes have to occur within economic and social systems. Business as usual is not enough.

At the University of Tromsø, the PhD-project related to sub-project 5 examines environmental debates regarding petroleum development in the Norwegian Arctic, and climate change in particular. Interviews and fieldwork have been conducted with the petroleum industry in Stavanger/Oslo and locally in Lofoten and Vesterålen and is currently being written out in four to five journal articles/book chapters. The first article has been submitted and accepted (Geographies of State Hood and Security in Norway's "Battle of the North") by Geoforum 41 (4). A second journal article will be submitted to Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift in October 2011, where fieldwork from Lofoten and Vesterålen is presented along with an analysis of the policy process. The third article will be submitted to an edited book about climate change (Cambridge University Press), and presents data from fieldwork with the petroleum industry and analysis the Norwegian governments’ High North approach as ‘opportunistic adaptation’ regarding petroleum development in Norwegian-Arctic territories and will be submitted in October/November 2011. The fourth article is co-written and deals with securitization of climate change, and uses the Arctic as a case where this process is unfolding, and will submitted to text book in advanced political geography (SAGE). In 2011, these papers have been presented at five international conferences.

Subproject 6: An Integrated Geographic Information System for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptive Capacity in Norway

This sub-project makes a contribution to the growing literature on participatory assessments of climate change. Decision support tools based on geographic information systems (GIS) offer a useful starting point for discussing climate change adaptation, particularly for spatial planners who have limited exposure to the science of climate change. The research from this sub-project shows that traditional GIS applications tend to pre-define a problem space by limiting the data that can be considered or the way in which the problem is conceptualized. In doing so, they privilege particular perspectives and understandings of climate change (i.e. physical, technical) while marginalizing others (i.e. cultural, ethical, social). The project employs qualitative methods in the context of GIS to incorporate collaborative, heuristic, and normative elements which are germane to adaptation decisions, in order to facilitate a deeper context for understanding and responding to the patterns that are generated by quantitative representations of climate change. Based on interviews with a range of domestic actors, the project has identified two important principles for GIS-supported adaptation planning:

1. Promote social and scientific openness by using adaptive management techniques. The involvement of broad group of representative stakeholders is important for providing guidance and tracking goals throughout the process. Stakeholder participation also helps to relate political objectives with the actual needs of the community, and can invigorate the planning process with new data, ideas, and perspectives.

2. Focus on data exploration (a process) over data presentation (a product). Quantitative representations of climate change are often too deterministic for samfunnsplanlegging; they leave little room for human agency and innovation, nor for changes in dominant institutions and paradigms. Instead, facilitate and encourage learning, from each other and the process.

Published Jan. 5, 2011 3:58 PM - Last modified Nov. 2, 2011 4:58 PM