Understanding climate change policy and action in Portuguese municipalities: A survey


Robust strategies and action-plans are essential in tackling climate change. Given the local and context-specific nature of climate impacts, the involvement of municipalities is key for effective mitigation and adaptation solutions. Due to its vulnerability and low level of adaptive capacity, Portugal offers insights into adaptation research and practice in Europe. This article hypothesizes that National and European climate change adaptation strategies are not effectively involving municipalities, and are thus losing out on the opportunity to take stock of local responses for climate change mitigation and adaptation. To address this issue, a survey by questionnaire was done to Portuguese municipalities, and data was collected regarding the following: the importance attributed to climate change; the mitigation and adaptation measures planned and implemented; the main drivers, concerns, and triggers promoting climate policy and actions; and access to information and knowledge. 109 valid responses were collected across the country from a universe of 308 municipalities. Results show climate change in planning agendas is still ‘little’ or ‘not important’. There is also a clear difference in the drivers and concerns motivating climate policy, and action between Littoral and Inland regions. Overall, there is a greater focus on mitigation than adaptation. The discussion highlights the need for capacity building, the issue of equity, the role of European networks, and the relevance of cultural differences between Littoral and Inland regions. The conclusion distils the main lessons learned concerning these challenges and needs, the role of transnational networks, and the cultural contexts for building resilience, through adaptation, across Europe.