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Pelling, Mark; Abeling, Thomas and Garschagen, Matthias ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9492-4463 (2016): Emergence and Transition in London’s Climate Change Adaptation Pathways. In: Journal of Extreme Events, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1650012 [PDF, 2MB]

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Climate change adaptation coevolves with urban development trajectories presenting decision-makers with a choice of positioning adaptation to protect or revise development. This relational view of adaptation in the context of large cities opens questions on the ways in which city and other actors interact. This interaction may be as or more important than resource and information access for shaping the adaptive capacity and direction of such assemblages. Transitions between modes of adaptation are little understood and will likely combine autonomous and deliberate change both incremental and transformative. Using London as a case study, the paper identifies the contemporary adaptation regime to extreme events and its lines of movement. Interviews and a scenario workshop with resilience planners and emergency managers show the orientation of London’s adaptation is firmly positioned in a mode of resilience, protecting development through flexibility. Maintaining resilience to extremes under conditions of economic austerity is seen to result in the shifting of risk management burdens onto those at risk. Self-reliance is emerging as a mechanism for deepening the resilience mode of adaptation. At the same time, when considering potential risks for extreme events in 2035, most planners express a desire for more transformative adaptation that can tackle root causes in social conditions. A gap is revealed between the professional judgment of risk and resilience planning needs and likely trajectories constrained by national administrations and policy.

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