Climate Action Co-benefits and Integrated Community Planning: Uncovering the Synergies and Trade-Offs

Engaging in climate action through integrated sustainability strategies can yield benefits for communities in more effective ways than through compartmentalized approaches. Such strategies can result in co-benefits, that is, community benefits that occur from acting on climate change that extend beyond mitigation and adaptation. For example, creating more walkable cities can be a strategy for reducing greenhouse gases, but can also lead to healthier communities. Climate strategies with co-benefits can result in “win-win” situations and thus improve practices for integrated community planning. However, this planning approach also presents challenges because it requires understanding complex relationships between community development practices and identifying synergies. In addition, some co-benefit strategies may also have associated challenges and trade-offs. This research examines climate action co-benefits and trade-offs in order to develop a comprehensive picture of the relationships and potential effects of implementing certain plans and strategies. The research consisted of collecting data on climate action efforts occurring in eleven BC (Canada) communities and coding it to identify climate strategies, co-benefits, challenges, and trade-offs. Relationships between codes were then identified through a coding matrix, and these were used to build a series of models that illustrate co-benefits, challenges, and trade-offs associated with local climate action. Each model centered on a particular area of climate action, including energy innovation, urban densification, mixed-use and downtown revitalization, building stock, ecological capital, trails and transportation, and waste and water. The models provide a holistic impression of the advantages and disadvantages associated with different plans and strategies, which in turn can guide both quantitative analyses and qualitative explorations that contribute toward integrated community planning and decision-making.

How Do Students Perceive and Evaluate Responses to Climate Change?

Impacts of climate change are increasingly felt in our daily lives. Although scepticism is still found among certain social groups, most lay discourses show awareness of the current environmental challenges. In order to move forward and develop action plans to mitigate and adapt to climate change, young people are an important voice to be heard. This research article tackles questions pertaining to the relation between climate change communication, education, and social perception of science, exploring social and cultural representations of climate change through the discourses of young people. Fieldwork involved eight focus groups conducted in Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain with a total of fifty higher education students of experimental/natural sciences and engineering and of social sciences and humanities. Discussions were organized around sixteen images referring to the causes, consequences, and responses to climate change. Without significant differences between knowledge areas or countries, findings point to awareness of multiple types of responses to climate change, even though students’ analyses were more grounded on common culture than on solid scientific evidence and language. Adaptation strategies were more rarely mentioned than mitigation actions. A strong emphasis was put on barriers to response implementation. Moderate optimism regarding some possible responses was impaired by distrust regarding the political and economic systems leading to calls for transformation at multiple levels.

Communicating Climate Science: A Matter of Credibility—Swedish Farmers’ Perceptions of Climate-Change Information

While climate-change communication research has advanced in the last decade, we still lack a thorough discussion of the credibility aspects of climate-change information and communication. Concurrently, and perhaps somewhat paradoxically, communication theories suggest that whether a (climate change) frame resonates with a particular audience is due partly to its perceived credibility. This article addresses the under-researched question of how a particular audience perceives climate-change information. Based on focus group (FG) discussions with Swedish farmers, this article explores both participants’ perceptions of climate-change information as well as the formation of these perceptions. The analysis of FG transcripts and frame credibility finds that participants use multiple ways of judging the credibility of information related to climate change. Specifically, the analysis suggests that participants hold different views concerning whether consistent or contradictory climate information landscapes constitute credible information; what constitutes credible knowledge production processes (e.g., analytical vs. experience-based approaches); and the credibility of frame articulators. Lastly, the article discusses how scientific evidence can be better communicated to more effectively inform climate-change decision-making and advocates paying greater attention to audience segmentation based on audience perceptions of climate change information credibility.