© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Research on climate change adaptive capacity has yet to explore how the increasing frequency and severity of climate change induced events are impacting the ability of vulnerable urban dwellers in the global North to cope and adapt to such events. Australia has already been witnessing increased frequency and severity of extreme heatwaves in its major cities, and climate change is expected to further exacerbate these hazards. This case study explores the dynamics and drivers of adaptive capacity to extreme heatwaves of a vulnerable low-income and multi-ethnic neighbourhood in Western Sydney by examining the socio-economic and institutional elements that shape their vulnerability and adaptive capacity and how the high frequency of heatwaves influences this capacity. Our results show that mere exposure to higher frequency of events is not enough on its own to trigger adaptation actions on a community level, and illustrate the complex dynamics of multi-scale factors that act as drivers of adaptive capacity. Data analysis points to the prevalence of short-term coping behaviours influenced by broader governance and legislative constrains to adapt, but also by subjective views and risk perceptions. We conclude that under-using community adaptive capacities along with individualising the responsibility to adapt can undermine state adaptation initiatives.
- Adaptive capacity
- Climate change
- Low-income, multi-ethnic neighbourhood