International comparison of family adaptation to climate

International comparison of family adaptation to climate

The climate is changing, not only in Holland, but also far beyond. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in 2021 had a clear message that climate adaptation is required of everyone, governments and individuals around the world. Researchers from Delft University of Technology and the University of Twente studied the drivers behind what motivates or hinders people in different cultures in adapting to climate. The results were published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

The research was conducted by scientists Tatiana Filatova (TU Delft), Ariana Ned (University of Twente) and PhD student Brighton Knoll (TU Delft). It answers the question to what extent the social, economic, and behavioral factors found to be relevant in previous research of climate adaptation in the Global North apply also in other cultures. Filatova: “A survey was conducted on more than 6,000 individuals in the Netherlands, the United States, China and Indonesia. The answers to the survey provide insight into the reasons why people are more or less motivated to make changes, such as making their homes flood resistant, buying sandbags, or petitioning the government” .

Research similarities and cultural differences
The results of the study show that some factors have similar effects on the motivation for climate adaptations in all countries. Filatova: “Across cultures, self-efficacy and perceived costs are respectively the strongest drivers and barriers to structural modifications to a home. For example, people are more likely to be motivated to adapt to climate change if they feel they can keep floods at bay. …belief in climate change has a global negative effect on adaptation intentions; perhaps because families with a sense of urgency have made adjustments before.”

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“We also see some important differences between countries: Previous flood experiences have little impact on domestic adaptation; except in the Netherlands where flooding is a rare experience. The belief that government action to combat climate change is inadequate, particularly adaptation intentions in the United States and Indonesia, but not in The Netherlands and China. Finally, while generally perceived costs greatly impede household adjustment, this presents a barrier nearly four times stronger in the global south than in the two more prosperous countries in the global north.”

Implications for international climate adaptation policy
The findings have implications for international climate policy. Given the heightened risks, adaptation at the household level is an essential complement to larger government measures to address future flood risks. Filatova: “To promote adaptation at the household level, policy makers can use the findings to create messages and communication policies adapted to a country’s culture that provide families with the incentives to build a more resilient society to climate change. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow emphasized the importance of climate adaptation and the need for Sharing the burden and costs of climate change across the world’s north and south. Through our research, we show that policymakers must carefully extrapolate knowledge about why and how citizens are adapting to climate change in other regions.”

more information
The research is an initiative of the 4TU.HTSF Resilience Engineering Program “DeSIRE” and supported by the European Research Council.
Read the post in Nature Climate Change

Tatiana Filatova, [email protected], Twitter: @TanjaFilatova, +31 15 27 85735
Ingie Snijder, Press Officer, [email protected] +31 15 27 87538

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Read more stories about climate action research at TU Delft here.

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