4. Adaptation Motivations, Barriers & Opportunities

About 64% of survey respondents report adjusting their activities in some way to address climate change. Of respondents indicating they are taking action, the primary motivating factors include concerns about climate justice and equity (80%), perceived threats from climate-related events (70%), general concern (64%), and observed changes in their community (56%) (Figure 13). Factors such as community demand (44%), perceived economic threats (42%), and access to new information on climate change (40%) also motivated action, while funding opportunities (21%) and mandates (11%) featured less significantly to respondents.

Figure 13.

Participants were asked to identify specific barriers with respect to addressing displacement in a changing climate. The top two barriers noted by respondents who are engaged in climate adaptation and those who are not include lack of funding and insufficient staff resources and capacity (Figure 14). Funding is constrained by the amount of money available to communities, as well as by restrictions in types of funding. For example, most federal funding for natural disasters and extreme weather events is reactionary and focused on recovery; the slow onset of climate-driven impacts is not factored into funding programs to provide for proactive pre-hazard mitigation efforts. Current more pressing issues such as general economics are shared perceived barriers for both sets of respondents, although they rank higher for those not engaged in climate adaptation (53%). Among the lowest perceived barriers for both sets of respondents are lack of clarity about which adaptation options are available and lack of specific climate data for communities.

Figure 14.

Figure 15 presents perceived barriers among those engaged in climate action. Insufficient resources and capacity is a key challenge for 72% of respondents from the parks and natural resources and infrastructure sectors, respectively, and 71% of those from public health. Respondents representing housing indicate that current more pressing issues (39%), lack of leadership (39%), and uncertainty (31%) also present challenges. Lack of specific climate data for communities was not highlighted as an issue of broad concern for most respondents, except those representing infrastructure (33%), parks and natural resources (28%), and transit (26%).

Figure 15.

Figure 16 presents perceived barriers among those not engaged in climate action. Current more pressing issues is a key challenge for 64% of respondents representing the policy sector, followed by 60% from public health and 59% from planning. Sixty-four percent of respondents from the environmental justice field agree that lack of funding is a challenge, followed by lack of access to information and data (55%), and lack of clarity about which options are available to support decision making (45%). Lack of specific climate data for communities was not highlighted as an issue of broad concern for most respondents, except those representing transit (29%), environmental justice (27%), and housing (26%).

Figure 16.

Sixty-four percent of survey respondents report adjusting their activities in some way to address climate change. Participants were asked to categorize their work to date from a series of strategies related to Infrastructure and Development, Transportation and Other Critical Services, Capacity Building, and Policy. Figures 17–20 (see below) present the answers provided by those engaged in climate action regarding strategies in use and those not used but of interest.

Among the strategies most in use by respondents are:

  • Increasing engagement with community groups in planning processes to develop and implement climate-informed actions (66%)
  • Diversifying the supply of affordable housing options (via funding opportunities, inclusionary zoning, tax incentives, accessory dwelling units) (52%)
  • Co-locating reliable transportation with affordable housing (51%)
  • Investing in workforce development (e.g., job training, green jobs) (47%)
  • Investing in green building to reduce utility costs (46%)
  • Integrating equity and just economy principles into climate action and resilience plans (44%)
  • Incorporating climate change and racial equity impact assessments into policy and investment decision-making (43%)
  • Incorporating anti-displacement criteria into investment and development rubrics (42%)
  • Incentivizing public transit use (41%)
  • Providing technical assistance to vulnerable individuals and communities (e.g., legal aid for property owners and renters, support on complex application processes) (41%)
  • Maintaining tree canopy to reduce utility costs in low-income neighborhoods (40%)

Among the strategies not currently used but of high interest for future use by respondents are:

  • Using passive heating and cooling in affordable housing stock design and retrofits (73%)
  • Intentionally accommodating displacement by identifying and protecting future relocation sites (71%)
  • Implementing transitional housing programs for vulnerable individuals (e.g., those displaced by natural disasters and climate change) (71%)
  • Revising federal, state, and local policies to permit relocation of individuals, communities, and infrastructure (66%)
  • Revising policies to include gradual biophysical processes such as erosion to allow for pre-disaster hazard mitigation declarations (65%)
  • Revising insurance programs to support climate-informed retrofits and relocation (65%)
  • Incorporating climate change and resilience measures into investment and development rubrics (63%)
  • Limiting development in locations vulnerable to the effects of climate change (63%)
  • Providing funding assistance to individuals and communities (e.g., homeowner assistance programs, housing rehabilitation funds) in locations vulnerable to the effects of climate change (61%)
  • Maintaining access to critical services (e.g., medical, transportation, utilities) during and in the aftermath of extreme events (61%)