Climatic Change

, Volume 112, Issue 3–4, pp 633–654 | Cite as

Are homeowners willing to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change?

  • Erik BichardEmail author
  • Aleksandra Kazmierczak


The need to adapt to climate change impacts, whilst simultaneously limiting greenhouse gas emissions, requires that the government’s efforts are joined by public action. In England and Wales, housing contributes significantly to the emissions and many properties are at risk of flooding. This paper investigates the preparedness of homeowners in England and Wales to make changes to their homes in response to the predicted effects of climate change. A telephone survey of 961 homeowners investigated their interest in purchasing mitigation and adaptation improvements against their concern about climate change, awareness of flood risk and attribution of responsibility for action. Whilst the majority of homes had some energy-saving improvements, few were found to have property-level flood protection. The high levels of awareness about climate change and flooding were coupled with the perception of risks as low. Whilst some respondents accepted personal responsibility for action, most believed that the authorities were responsible for flood protection, and would not pay the costs required to make their home more energy-efficient and better prepared for the eventuality of floods. The results suggest that there is scope for further improvement of energy-saving measures, and that the levels of adoption of flood-protection measures are very low. Multi-faceted strategies, including more effective communication of risks and responsibilities, incentives, and material support for the poorest, will need to be developed to overcome the current reluctance by homeowners to invest in flood-protection measures and further energy conservation solutions in the future.


Flood Risk Environment Agency Flood Protection Flood Insurance Current Uptake 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was carried out as part of the Resilient Homes project funded by the Environment Agency. Many thanks go to Professor David Percy (University of Salford), Dr Iain White (University of Manchester) and to the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


  1. ABI (2008) Revised statement of principles on the provision of flood insurance. Association of British Insurers, London. Available at Accessed 20 Jan 2011
  2. ABI (2010) Spending Review—ABI comments on flood investment plans. ABI News Release 52/10, 20 October 2010. Association of British Insurers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Ajzen I, Fishbein M (1980) Understanding attitudes and predicting social behaviour. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  4. Bichard E, Cooper CL (2008) Positively responsible. Butterworth-Heinemann, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Bichard E, Kazmierczak A (2010) Could non-cash rewards motivate homeowners to protect their houses from flooding? In: Kabish S, Kunath A, Feldmann H (Eds), Abstracts of Presentations at 21 International Association of People-Environment Studies Conference: Vulnerability, Risk and Complexity, 27 June—2 July 2010, pp. 273–274Google Scholar
  6. Boardman B (2004) New directions for household energy efficiency: evidence from the UK. Energy Policy 32(17):1921–1933CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boardman B (2007) Home truths: A low-carbon strategy to reduce UK housing emissions by 80% by 2050. A research report for the Co-operative Bank and Friends of the Earth. University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Boardman B, Lane K, Hinnells M, Banks N, Milne G, Goodwin A, Fawcett T (1997) Transforming the UK cold market. Environmental change institute research report 16. University of Oxford, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowker P (2002) Making properties more resistant to floods. Munic Eng 151:197–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bowker P (2007) Flood resistance and resilience solutions: An R&D scoping study. Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Bronner F, van der Noort W, Ross R, Tchaoussoglou C (2003) The Netherlands Live with Water—exciting, efficient, effective research. Worldwide Readership Research Symposium, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  12. Burningham K, Fielding J, Thrish D (2007) ‘It’ll never happen to me’: understanding public awareness of local risk. Disasters 32:216–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Champion T (2005) Focus on people and migration: 2005. Chapter 6: Population movement within the UK. Office for National Statistics, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Clarke JA, Johnstone CM, Kelly NJ, Strachan PA, Tuohy P (2008) The role of built environment energy efficiency in a sustainable UK energy economy. Energy Policy 36:4605–4609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. CLG (2010) English housing survey: headline report 2008–2009. Department for Communities and Local Government, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Climate Change Act 2008. HMSO, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Crichton D (2007) What can cities do to increase resilience? Phil Trans R Soc 365:2731–2739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. DECC (2010a) Statistical release: experimental statistics. Estimates of home insulation levels in Great Britain. Department of Energy and Climate Change, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. DECC (2010b) The Green Deal Energy savings for homes and business public information leaflet 10D/973. Department of Energy and Climate Change, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. DEFRA (2004) Making space for water: Developing a new government strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England: A consultation exercise. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. DEFRA (2005) The appraisal of human-related intangible impacts of flooding. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. DEFRA (2008a) Developing the evidence base for flood resistance and resilience. R&D Technical Report FD2607/TR1. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. DEFRA (2008b) Resilience grants pilot projects. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. DEFRA (2009a) Public attitudes and behaviours towards the environment—tracker survey. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. DEFRA (2009b) Government grants to local authorities for household-level flood mitigation. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. DEFRA (2010) Flood and water management bill impact assessment—amendment to the building act to allow building regulations to require flood resilient repair. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. DEFRA, BERR (2008) The UK fuel poverty strategy 6th annual progress report. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. EA (2009a) Flooding in England. A national assessment of flood risk. Environment Agency, BristolGoogle Scholar
  29. EA (2009b) Prepare your property for flooding. A guide for householders and small businesses. Environment Agency, BristolGoogle Scholar
  30. EAW (2009) Flood and coastal risk management in Wales. Environment Agency Wales, CardiffGoogle Scholar
  31. Evans E, Ashley R, Hall J, Penning-Rowsell E, Saul A, Sayers P, Tjorne C, Watkinson A (2004) Foresight. Future flooding. Scientific summary: Volume 1—future risks and their drivers. Office of Science and Technology, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Experian (2009) Mosaic United Kingdom. The consumer classification for the UK. Experian Ltd, NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  33. Falconer RH, Cobby D, Smyth P, Astle G, Dent J, Golding B (2009) Pluvial flooding: new approaches in flood warning, mapping and risk management. J Flood Risk Manag 2:198–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grothmann T, Patt A (2005) Adaptive capacity and human cognition: the process of individual adaptation to climate change. Glob Environ Chang Part A 15:199–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Harries T (2008) Householder responses to flood risk the consequences of the search for ontological security. PhD Thesis Middlesex University, LondonGoogle Scholar
  36. HM Government (2006) Climate Change—the UK Programme 2006Google Scholar
  37. Jenkins GJ, Perry MC, Prior MJ (2009) The climate of the United Kingdom and recent trends, revised edition. Met Office Hadley Centre, ExeterGoogle Scholar
  38. Johnson C, Penning-Rowsell E, Parker D (2007) Natural and imposed injustices: the challenges in implementing ‘fair’ flood risk management policy in England. Geogr J 173:374–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Johnson C, Priest S (2008) Flood risk management in England: A changing landscape of risk responsibility? Int J Water Resour D 24:513–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kazmierczak A, Bichard B (2010) Investigating homeowners’ interest in property-level flood protection. Int J Disaster Resilience Built Env 1:157–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lamond JE, Proverbs DG (2009) Resilience to flooding: lessons from international comparison. Urban Des Plan 162:63–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. LGDU (2008) Welsh housing statistics 2008. Local Government Data Unit-Wales, CardiffGoogle Scholar
  43. Lorenzoni I, Leiserowitz A, Doria M, Poortinga W, Pidgeon N (2006) Cross national comparisons of image associations with ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ among laypeople in the United States of America and Great Britain. J Risk Res 9:265–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lorenzoni I, Nicholson-Cole S, Whitmarsh L (2007) Barriers perceived to engaging with climate change among the UK public and their policy implications. Glob Environ Chang 17:445–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meier E, Moy C (2004) Social Grading and the Census. Int J Market Res 46:141–170Google Scholar
  46. Ofgem (2008) A review of the energy efficiency commitment 2005–2008. Report to the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. Office for Gas and Electricity markets, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. ONS (2001) Census 2001. Office for National Statistics, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Palmer TN, Räisänen J (2002) Quantifying the risk of extreme seasonal precipitation events in a changing climate. Nature 415:512–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Parker DJ, Tunstall SM, McCarthy S (2007) New insights into the benefits of flood warnings: Results from a household survey in England and Wales. Env Hazard 7:193–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pitt M (2007) Learning lessons from the 2007 floods, an independent review by Sir Michael Pitt. Interim report, Cabinet Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  51. Pitt M (2008) Learning lessons from the 2007 floods, an independent review by Sir Michael Pitt. Cabinet Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  52. RICS (2010) Energy efficiency and value project: Final report. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, LondonGoogle Scholar
  53. Sanders CH, Phillipson MC (2003) UK adaptation strategy and technical measures: the impacts of climate change on buildings. Build Res Inf 31:210–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith JB, Schneider SH, Oppenheimer M, Yohe GW, Hare W, Mastrandrea MD, Patwardhan A, Burton I, Corfee-Morlot J, Magadza CDH, Füssel H-M, Pittock AB, Rahman A, Suarez A, van Ypersele J-P (2009) Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “reasons for concern”. P Natl Acad Sci USA 106:4133–4137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stern P (2000) Towards a coherent theory of environmentally significant behaviour. J Soc Issues 56:407–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Swim J, Clayton S, Doherty, T, Gifford R, Howard, G, Reser, J, Stern P, Weber E (2009) Psychology & Global Climate Change: addressing a multifaceted phenomenon and set of challenges. A report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology & Global Climate Change. Available at Accessed 31 Jan 2011
  57. Tapsell SM, Penning-Rowsell EC, Tunstall SM, Wilson TL (2002) Vulnerability to flooding: health and social dimensions. Philos T R Soc A 360:1511–1525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Terpstra T, Gutteling JM (2008) Households’ perceived responsibilities in flood risk management in the Netherlands. Int J Water Resour D 24:555–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Three Regions Climate Change Group (2008) Your home in a changing climate: retrofitting existing homes for climate change impacts. Greater London Authority, LondonGoogle Scholar
  60. WAG (2010) State of the environment. Welsh Assembly Government, CardiffGoogle Scholar
  61. Werritty A, Houston D, Ball T, Tavendale A, Black A (2007) Exploring the social impacts of flood risk and flooding in Scotland. The Scottish Government, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  62. Whitmarsh L (2008) Are flood victims more concerned about climate change than other people? The role of direct experience in risk perception and behavioural response. J Risk Res 11:351–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Whitmarsh L, O’Neill S, Lorenzoni I (2010) Engaging the public with climate change: Behaviour change and communication. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  64. Wilmhurst J, McKay A (1999) The fundamentals of advertising. Butterworth-Heinemann, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of the Built EnvironmentUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK
  2. 2.School of Environment and DevelopmentUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations