Avoiding climate change uncertainties in Strategic Environmental Assessment

Sanne Vammen Larsen, Lone Kørnøv, Patrick Arthur Driscoll

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This article is concerned with how Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) practice handles climate change uncertainties within the Danish planning system. First, a hypothetical model is set up for how uncertainty is handled and not handled in decision-making. The model incorporates the strategies ‘reduction’ and ‘resilience’, ‘denying’, ‘ignoring’ and ‘postponing’. Second, 151 Danish SEAs are analysed with a focus on the extent to which climate change uncertainties are acknowledged and presented, and the empirical findings are discussed in relation to the model. The findings indicate that despite incentives to do so, climate change uncertainties were systematically avoided or downplayed in all but 5 of the 151 SEAs that were reviewed. Finally, two possible explanatory mechanisms are proposed to explain this: conflict avoidance and a need to quantify uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Pages (from-to)144-150
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Uncertainty
  • Decision support systems
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment
  • Climate change

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