From barriers to limits to climate change adaptation: path dependency and the speed of change
Kiem, Anthony S.
Kingsford, Richard T.
Palutikof, Jean P.
Pickering, Catherine M.
Smithers, Scott G.
Ecology and Society
Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance.
Research on the barriers and limits to climate change adaptation identifies many factors, but describes few processes whereby adaptation is constrained or may indeed fail to avoid catastrophic losses. It often assumes that barriers are by and large distinct from limits to adaptation. We respond to recent calls for comparative studies that are able to further knowledge about the underlying drivers of barriers and limits to adaptation. We compare six cases from across Australia, including those in alpine areas, rivers, reefs, wetlands, small inland communities, and islands, with the aim of identifying common underlying drivers of barriers and limits to adaptation. We find that the path-dependent nature of the institutions that govern natural resources and public goods is a deep driver of barriers and limits to adaptation. Path-dependent institutions are resistant to change. When this resistance causes the changes necessary for adaptation to be slower than changes in climate, then it becomes a limit to adaptation.
Australian government - National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
Open Access journal
Vol. 20, No. 3, Art. 5