Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Gordon McBean


Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada to use the gas tax as a financial incentive to create a regulatory mandate for ‘Municipal Climate Change Action Plans’ (MCCAPs). The MCCAP adaptation policy mandate initiated and enabled climate change vulnerability assessment and the development of climate risk priorities and adaptation plans to uniformly occur at the local scale in 53 Nova Scotian municipalities. This dissertation seeks to answer the question: What are the social factors that impacted municipal climate change adaptation policy and planning processes in the multi-level governance context of Nova Scotia’s MCCAP?

The study develops and operationalizes a thematic, functional conceptual framework and exploratory, descriptive case study research approach for conducting adaptation case studies and comparative analysis of municipal adaptation planning processes in multi-level governance contexts. The framework enables thematic investigation and discussion about the social factors impacting municipal adaptation policy and planning processes in multi-level governance and municipal case settings. The study utilizes content analysis of adaptation plans in combination with focus groups, an iterative online survey and targeted interviews conducted with adaptation stakeholders to explore, describe and illustrate what and how social factors impacted the MCCAP process in Nova Scotia municipalities. The mixed methodology provides a pragmatic approach to generate data from which to compare evidence of the social impact factors that affect municipalities’ adaptation planning and policy development processes in multi-level governance contexts. The study offers new empirical and conceptual insights into the ‘how and what’ of municipal climate change adaptation policy making processes in multi-level adaptation governance contexts. The study conceptually affirms that significant resource and capacity-building gaps, a lack of governmental coordination, low levels of public demand and aspects of cross-scalar political leadership hinder and constrain adaptation capacity building and policy integration in municipal processes. Institutional fragmentation and lack of multi-level policy coordination may be key social factors impacting Nova Scotia municipalities’ adaptive capacities and the prospects for long-term resiliency and adaptation to climate change risks impacting communities at the local scale.