2008 volume 26(3) pages 544 – 562

Cite as:
Zahran S, Brody S D, Vedlitz A, Grover H, Miller C, 2008, "Vulnerability and capacity: explaining local commitment to climate-change policy" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 26(3) 544 – 562

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Vulnerability and capacity: explaining local commitment to climate-change policy

Sammy Zahran, Samuel D Brody, Arnold Vedlitz, Himanshu Grover, Caitlyn Miller

Received 1 September 2006; in revised form 1 December 2006; published online 5 March 2008

Abstract. We examine the reasons why a US locality would voluntarily commit to the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) campaign. Using geographic information systems analytic techniques, we map and measure a locality’s vulnerability to climate-change impacts at the county level of spatial precision. We analyze multiple measures of climate-change vulnerability, including expected temperature change, extreme weather events, and coastal proximity, as well as economic variables, demographic variables, and civic-participation variables that constitute a locality’s socioeconomic capacity to commit to costly climate-change policy initiatives. Bivariate and logistic regression results indicate that CCP-committed localities are quantitatively different to noncommitted localities on both climate-change risk and socioeconomic-capacity dimensions. On vulnerability measures, the odds of CCP-campaign participation increase significantly with the number of people killed and injured by extreme weather events, projected temperature change, and coastal proximity. On socioeconomic-capacity measures, the odds of CCP-campaign involvement increase with the percentage of citizens that vote Democrat and recycle, as well as the number of nonprofit organizations with an environment focus. The odds decrease in a county area as the percentage of the labor force employed in carbon-intensive industries increases.

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