Adaptations to Rural Communities through Living with Climate Change

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Geography


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Description The study explored how rural communities may be impacted in the future by social and environmental changes associated with climate change. A detailed investigation of four rural communities in England revealed that contemporary rural lifestyles are highly dependent of carbon fuels, a key contributor to humanly induced climate change. Whilst residents of these communities were generally concerned about both climate change and the long term sustainability of carbon-based energy sources, it was clear that for many people climate change was only a 'back-of-the mind' concern, whilst energy often appeared as a 'front-of-the-mind' issue principally in terms of price and security of supplies. The study also highlighted the presence of uncertainty over the causes of climate change and the value of mitigation activities, including the development of renewable energy sources. Such uncertainty is an important contributor to a gap between levels of expressed concern and behaviour that were also clearly revealed in the study. The project argued that these disjunctures between expressed concern and action did not necessarily signifying some deficit in knowledge or motivation but needed to be understood in the context of a range of pre-existing concerns, interpretations and social relations. The study suggests that people are well aware of the existence of disjunctures between their understandings and actions, but create stories or narratives to themselves to explain these their participation or non-engagement with mitigation and adaptation activities. Five distinct narratives of non-transition and three narratives of transition are identified as being of significance in the four rural villages examined in this research. The research also explores how such narratives might be impacted by 3-d visualisations four different scenarios of the future.
Exploitation Route A key aspect of this project was to facilitate communication between four groups, namely: academics, governmental experts on climate change mitigation and adaptation, experts on alternative low-impact development, and residents in rural communities. The interaction of these groups was facilitated by the establishment of a steering group and through dissemination of its findings through articles in academic and policy related journals, a working paper series, and a written project summary report. Data from the project has also been submitted to the UK Data Archive, where it can be access by other researchers. We have also supplied data from the project to a meta-analysis on predictors of climate change belief being conducted by the University of Queenland.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment

Description As outlined in the Key Findings section, data from the project has also been submitted to the UK Data Archive, where it can be access by other researchers. We have also supplied data from the project to a meta-analysis on predictors of climate change belief that has now been published (Hornsey M et al. (2016) Meta-analyses of the determinants and outcomes of belief in climate change. Nature: Climate Change 6: 622-626). Material from the project was also used in a presentation to the OECD 'Managing Environmental and Energy Transitions in Rural Areas' workshop in September 2019.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

Description Programme Coordination Team, Landscape Decisions - Towards a new framework for using land assets
Amount £739,330 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/T002182/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2019 
End 05/2023
Description The Challenges of Contemporary Rural Living 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop was organised as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science and was organised to attract academic researchers, students, planners, rural policy makers and development practitioners, which it succeeded in doing. Four presentations were given by academic researchers and three were given by rural policy-makers and practitioners, with a lively discussion emerging. Contacts were made that have led to further discussions related to potential further collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019