Public Perceptions concerning Responsibility for Climate Change Adaptation

Sustainability 13 (22) (2021)
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Abstract

For successful climate change adaptation, the distribution of responsibility within society is an important question. While the literature highlights the need for involving both public and private actors, little is still known of how citizens perceive their own and others’ responsibility, let alone the moral groundings for such perceptions. In this paper, we report the results of a survey regarding people’s attitudes towards different ways of distributing responsibility for climate change adaptation. The survey was distributed to citizens in six Swedish municipalities and completed by 510 respondents. A large number of respondents wanted to assign responsibility for making decisions about and implementing adaptation measures to local governments, but also to property owners, whereas the national government was raised as responsible for setting decision boundaries and for financial support. The most preferred principles for a fair distribution of responsibility among the respondents were desert, ability, efficiency and need, while the principle of equal shares found less support. All principles received some support, indicating that it is necessary to consider several principles when distributing responsibility for climate change adaptation. Compared to earlier studies, this study shows more nuanced perceptions on who should be responsible and on what moral grounds.

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Erik Persson
Lund University

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