Due to its all encompassing nature, climate change adaptation (CCA) has often been referred to as a “wicked policy challenge”. Undoubtedly, CCA is a highly localized, context-specific and cross-sectoral effort. Yet, only few comparative research efforts exist that look at local barriers to CCA across different regions and political systems. In this context, my PhD project examines, what motivates local governmental actors to (not) pursue an agenda that seeks to increase human resilience to urban flooding and extreme heat events. Aside from investigating the structural barriers, such as a lack of political will; knowledge; limited financial and human resources; absence of best practices, etc., social barriers to climate adaptation will be analyzed. By looking at the cognitive, normative as well as psychological limits to climate adaptation efforts, the social barriers angle views limits to CCA more dynamically. Thereby, this PhD project seeks to go beyond a rationally-based understanding of wicked policy challenges in order to foster a greater understanding of the ethical and cultural origins related to adaptation barriers and policy change in general.
This dissertation follows an empirically-based comparative research design through looking at the state of local adaptation planning in China and the United States (U.S.). The case selection is grounded in a comparison of social and climate vulnerability assessments of China and the U.S. Based on the assessment findings, the analysis of barriers to climate adaptation will concentrate on the more severely exposed Southeastern United States (Atlanta, Georgia state) and Eastern China (Jinhua, Zhejiang province).
Aside from adding onto the social barriers of climate adaptation literature, this dissertation aims to make a contribution that critically questions existent social vulnerability frameworks by shifting the emphasis towards institutional access and political responsibility rather than differential recognition for human vulnerability.
This PhD project is associated with the Graduate School of East Asian Studies and the Environmental Policy Institute at the Political and Social Sciences Department at Freie Universität Berlin.
• Freie Universität Berlin, Expert Workshop: “Headlines are not the main story: a contrarian view on economic reform under Xi Jinping”, presented on: Climate adaptation and vulnerable populations - local governance approaches in China and the U.S , (Berlin 07/2017)
• Colorado State University Symposium: "Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Anthropocene Symposium”, presented on: A comparison of social vulnerability and local governmental responses in Jinhua county (Zhejiang province) and metro Atlanta (Georgia state), (Fort Collins 04/2017)
• Human Condition Initiative Workshop: "A Workshop on The Environment and Vulnerability: The Anthropocene in the Time of Trump”, presented on: The “weak” vulnerable subject? Comparing local Chinese and U.S. approaches to human vulnerability and climate adaptation, (Atlanta 04/2017)
• China’s Health, Environment and Welfare (CHEW) Annual Conference at the University of Oxford: "Visible and Invisible Challenges Transformations in Contemporary China”, presented on: Social Vulnerability and Governmental Responsibility - The Sichuan 2008 Earthquake in Perspective , (Oxford: 05/2016)
• Dahrendorf Forum-LSE IDEAS Special Report event: "Transatlantic Relations After the Election: Next Generation Perspectives”, presented on: Transatlantic Relations After the Election - The Trump Climate Freakout?, (London: 11/2016).
• Carnegie Council’s Global Ethics Fellows Fifth Annual Conference: “An Ethical Dialogue between Asia and the West: Philosophical Traditions, Moral Contentions, and the Future of US-Asia Relations”, presented on: No One's Century or Everyone's Opportunity? , (New York: 10/2015)
• Natural Resources Defense Council: “Understanding and communicating the groundswell of climate actions”, presented on: Climate Commitment Platforms – A Critical Analysis of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 , (New York: 4/2015)
• Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), School of International and Public Affairs Summer School: “China's Policy on Climate Change, Energy and Environment”, held lecture on: Adaptation in an authoritarian fashion? , (Shanghai, 07/2017)
• EU-US-China relations and climate deals: a threat to transatlantic relations? , From: LSE Special Report "New Challenges, New Voices: Next Generation Viewpoints on Transatlantic Relations”, SR022, May 2016.
Online blogs • “Why Beijing's air pollution matters: human health as a meaningful ground for future EU-China collaboration on non-traditional security”, The SPEAR - Security and Politics in Europe-Asia Relations, accessible at: http://www.asianperceptions.eu/nfg-blog/why-beijing%E2%80%99s- air-pollution-matters-human-health-meaningful-ground-eu-china- cooperation-non