Understanding Controversies in Urban Climate Change Adaptation. A case study of the role of homeowners in the process of climate change adaptation in Copenhagen

  • Nina Baron
  • Lars Kjerulf Petersen
Keywords: Climate change adaptation, homeowners, assemblage theory, controversies, sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), water management, Copenhagen


This article explores the controversies that exist in urban climate change adaptation and how these controversies influence the role of homeowners in urban adaptation planning.  A concrete ‘Sustainable Urban Drainages System’ (SUDS) project in a housing cooperative in Copenhagen has been used as a case study, thereby investigating multiple understandings of urban climate change adaptation. Several different perspectives are identified with regard to what are and what will become the main climate problems in the urban environment as well as what are considered to be the best responses to these problems. Building on the actor-network inspired theory of ‘urban green assemblages’ we argue that at least three different assemblages can be identified in urban climate change adaptation. Each assemblage constitutes and connects problems and responses differently and thereby involve homeowners in different ways. As climate change is a problem of unknown character and outcome in the future, we argue that it can be problematic if one way of constituting urban climate change adaptation becomes dominant, in which case some climate problems and adaptation options may become less influential, even though the enrolment of these could contribute to a more resilient city. Furthermore, the case study from Copenhagen also shows that the influence and involvement of homeowners might be reduced if the conception of future climate problems becomes too restricted. The result would be that the potential benefits of involving urban citizens in defining and responding to problems related to climate change would be lost.



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