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Examining legal and regulatory barriers to climate change adaptation in the coastal zone of the United States
Cogent Environmental Science (2018)
  • Chad J McGuire
This paper presents an analysis of key legal and regulatory instruments in the United States that impact climate adaptation planning. The analysis is framed within a social-institutional context, meaning the legal-regulatory environment is viewed from the perspective of the practices and norms that are created through existing laws and policies. Those norms and practices are then compared to current best practices for coastal climate adaptation to determine if and where divergence between recommended best practices and existing policy structures occurs. The results of this analysis suggest key policy instruments cumulatively act as barriers to adopting climate change assessment recommendations in coastal regions. The main causes for this disconnect between information and action seem to be historical path dependence, clear counter-incentives favoring coastal development, and multiple narratives of climate change, all of which diminish a unified public demand for coastal adaptation. Enumerated lessons presented from this analysis can be used as conceptual starting points when thinking about translating assessments of climate change into public action. In particular, the social-institutional framework provides an analytical construct for gaining insight into how existing legal and regulatory instruments influence adoption of proposed adaptation strategies, including highlighting when divergence between existing and proposed policies occurs.
  • climate change,
  • adaptation,
  • climate policy,
  • development,
  • disaster risk management,
  • coastal zone management
Publication Date
July 6, 2018
Citation Information
Chad J McGuire. "Examining legal and regulatory barriers to climate change adaptation in the coastal zone of the United States" Cogent Environmental Science Vol. 4 Iss. 1 (2018) p. 1491096
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Creative Commons license
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY International License.