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Ph.D. Dissertation


The Path to a Fair and Equitable Climate Change Policy: Addressing Climate Change Policy in South Wilmington, Delaware

Practitioners and disciples of the field of public policy have recently shifted their foci towards local-level approaches to addressing both adaptation and mitigation of climate change.  In several cases, a local-level approach to climate change policy has proven to be more successful than broad national- or international-level efforts and it has become apparent that local-level approaches may serve as a catalyst for expanding and strengthening new climate change initiatives.  This new approach emphasizes the bottom-up perspective, taking into much greater account the impact of climate change on states, counties, cities, and communities.

The benefits of local-level climate change policies include the ability to involve local concerns, indigenous knowledge, community support, and targeted funding.  The local-level approach also allows for a snowball effect, more easily gaining the support of multiple contingent communities and creating positive regional repercussions.

The dissertation adds to the growing bottom-up, local-level policy approach by documenting an in-depth study of the climate change policy options available to the community of South Wilmington, Delaware.  South Wilmington has historically and presently continues to face multiple environmental, economic, and social disadvantages that increase the community’s vulnerability to climate change, such as high percentage of areas of Brownfields, high percentage of low-income households, low educational attainment, and high degree of isolation from the greater Wilmington and Delawarean community.

Through this research, it becomes apparent that the disadvantages facing this community are challenging, but not entirely unique.  As such, the dissertation explores the environmental, economic, social, ethical, and political approaches that have been undertaken by similar communities around the world and applies lessons learned to the South Wilmington setting.  Through the lenses of the natural and social sciences of climate change, environmental ethics, and environmental policy, the dissertation provides a review of environmental economics and analysis of the socio-economic conditions of South Wilmington.

Based on the application of lessons learned and the thorough multidisciplinary analysis, the dissertation formulates five policy options which, if implemented, would help South Wilmington leaders secure a path forward that would position their community to be significantly less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

PDF of dissertation available below.  Due to size constraints the images are compressed and the appendix is not included.  If you would like a full resolution copy, including the appendix, please email me at to request a copy.

Research Press:

DENIN/EPSCoR Symposium:

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Science, Ethcs & Public Policy Program:

Kevin Adkin,
Apr 22, 2013, 9:52 AM