The role of climate in household adaptation & disaster risk reduction: a case study from Kensington, Victoria
AuthorCornes, Isabel Clare
AffiliationOffice for Environmental Programs
MetadataShow full item record
Document TypeMasters Coursework thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2017 Isabel Clare Cornes
Climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) have become critical areas of research in light of the uncertainties of climate change, however, there is currently limited knowledge about the adaptive and risk reductive (in)actions of urban households in Australia. This research sought to understand what, if anything, households are doing to adapt to climate-related disasters, and ‘why’? A survey of 76 households in Kensington, Victoria, combined with semi-structured interviews with 15 of those households, provides insight into the role that climate change plays in household adaptive (in)action. Analysing the data through the theoretical lenses of the knowledge-action gap, and Foucault’s theory of governmentality, the findings conclude that climate change and its relationship to (in)action to perceived risks, is deeply entrenched in the complexities and challenges of daily informal household governance, as well as the formal governance of CCA in Australia. It is argued therefore that knowledge is not the primary contributor to (in)action in this sample. The term (in)action is applied throughout the thesis, highlighting the way in which action and inaction are forms of active decision-making. The findings demonstrate that the vast majority of households believe climate change will impact them in the next ten years. In Kensington, the increasing frequency of heatwaves emerged to be the primary cause for concern. For those with the capacity to adapt, CCA to heatwaves predominantly took the form of air conditioning installation, passive cooling design, behaviour change, or vacating the property during heatwave events. In this sample, adaptation (in)action was predominantly triggered by three factors: 1) past experience with disasters, 2) connection to nature, and 3) a local assessment of risk. These factors, however, are situated in a multitude of other motivating and inhibiting factors. Formal governance of CCA in Australia, which dictates affordability of adaptive actions, and electricity supply during heatwaves, was found to have the most significant contribution to the willingness, and capacity of households to adapt to heatwave risks. These findings contribute to the notable gap in the literature on household adaptation in urban Australia.
Keywordsclimate change; adaptation; households; disaster risk reduction
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