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Climate Change, Impact Assessment, Public Participation


In this chapter, we consider the role of the public and the benefits of participatory approaches for the effective consideration of climate change in impact assessments in the light of three starting assumptions, which we refer to as ‘climate realities’. The first climate reality is the need for full decarbonization within the next 30 years. The second climate reality is that even a ‘well below 2 degrees’ world will result in fundamental changes to ecological and social systems that will require active management, and it is far from clear whether this well below 2 degrees goal will be met. The third climate reality is that climate change will lead to both reversible and irreversible loss and damage, again, even at well below 2 degrees, and more so if this global collective mitigation target is not met. Given these three climate realities, this chapter explores the important contribution participatory approaches can make to solving the challenges associated with informing sound decision making with respect to climate change in the context of impact assessments. Meaningful participation is particularly relevant to the integration of Climate Change into impact Assessment as it is a site for respect and recognition of rights and interests, transformative learning for all stakeholders, collective and cooperative action, legitimacy of interventions, and adaptive management. Our focus in this chapter is on project assessments, but we also consider the roles of regional and strategic assessments.