Climate Adaptation Policy and Evidence: Understanding the Tensions between Politics and Expertise in Public Policy, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Climate Adaptation Policy and Evidence

Understanding the Tensions between Politics and Expertise in Public Policy, 1st Edition

By Peter Tangney


258 pages

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Evidence-based policymaking is often promoted within liberal democracies as the best means for government to balance political values with technical considerations. Under the evidence-based mandate, both experts and non-experts often assume that policy problems are sufficiently tractable and that experts can provide impartial and usable advice to government so that problems like climate change adaptation can be effectively addressed; at least, where there is political will to do so. This book compares the politics and science informing climate adaptation policy in Australia and the UK to understand how realistic these expectations are in practice.

At a time when both academics and practitioners have repeatedly called for more and better science to anticipate climate change impacts and, thereby, to effectively adapt, this book explains why a dearth of useful expert evidence about future climate is not the most pressing problem. Even when it is sufficiently credible and relevant for decision-making, climate science is often ignored or politicised to ensure the evidence-based mandate is coherent with prevailing political, economic and epistemic ideals. There are other types of policy knowledge too that are, arguably, much more important. This comparative analysis reveals what the politics of climate change mean for both the development of useful evidence and for the practice of evidence-based policymaking.

Table of Contents



List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Science, Evidence and Public Policy

Chapter 3. Queensland, Australia and the UK: Comparing the pursuit of climate adaptation in liberal democracies

Chapter 4. Climate adaptation evidence for policy

Chapter 5. Knowledge systems for sustainability

Chapter 6. Perceptions of the usefulness and usability of climate science and evidence for policy

Chapter 7. The politicisation and scientisation of climate risk management

Chapter 8. Evidence needs for adaptation policymaking

Chapter 9. Reconciling tensions between experts, evidence and politics

About the Author


Peter Tangney

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Learn more about Peter Tangney >>

Peter Tangney is a Lecturer in Science Policy and Communication at Flinders University, Australia

About the Series

The Earthscan Science in Society Series

The Earthscan Science in Society Series aims to publish new high quality research, teaching, practical and policy- related books on topics that address the complex and vitally important interface between science and society.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
SCIENCE / Global Warming & Climate Change


Peter Tangney has won the APSA Crisp Prize 2018 award.