Climate policy innovation: The adoption and diffusion of adaptation policies across Europe

Eric Massey (Lead Author), Robbert Biesbroek, Dave Huitema, Andy Jordan

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Climate change adaptation governance is in flux. Adaptation policies are being adopted by governments at a rapid pace, particularly in Europe. In the period 2005–2010, the total number of recorded adaptation policy measures in the EU grew by some 635%. Despite the plethora of work on adaptation governance, few if any empirical studies have been conducted that explore the driving forces behind the rapid adoption and diffusion of adaptation policies. Working within the theoretical framework of national policy innovation (see Jordan and Huitema, 2014a, Jordan and Huitema, 2014b), we draw on a uniquely systematic database of national climate polices to develop a set of hypotheses on the drivers and barriers surrounding the adoption and diffusion of climate change adaptation policies across 29 European countries. Using an internal/external model we postulate that adaptation is largely being driven by internal factors. Additionally, we look to the possible effects of this policy adoption and diffusion to see if adaptation is emerging into a new and distinct policy field. What we find is that indeed it could be in a handful of countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434–443
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Early online date26 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Change adaptation
  • Policy diffusion
  • Innovation
  • Policy field
  • Barriers
  • Drivers

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