Private adaptation to climate risks: Evidence from the world’s largest mining companies

Maria-Therese Gustafsson, Jorge E. Rodriguez-Morales, Lisa M. Dellmuth
DOI number
#Environment and climate change
#Sustainability standards
Additional info: Article published in the journal Climate Risk Management
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Private companies have in recent years started to disclose information about their exposure and responses to climate risks. However, we still know little about how and why private actors engage in climate change adaptation, and to what extent they do so in ways that improve societal resilience. This article addresses these questions. It conceptualizes private adaptation as consisting of institutional, infrastructural and community-oriented responses to climate risks. It develops a political-economic framework about the drivers of private adaptation, where private adaptation is expected to be shaped by pressures exerted by governments, investors, and civil society actors. Empirically, the framework is explored by using an original dataset on the adaptation responses of the 37 largest mining companies worldwide. We select the mining sector as mineral extraction plays a critical role in the low-carbon transition, and can, at the same time, exacerbate climate vulnerability in extracting sites. The descriptive findings suggest that the majority of the investigated companies have set up procedures to assess climate impacts on business operations, integrated climate risks in water governance, and adapted their infrastructure. The explanatory results indicate that private adaptation is mainly driven by investor pressures, and not domestic regulations and civil society. By implication, companies rarely engage in community-oriented adaptation responses by cooperating with local communities in ways that would benefit these communities. Taken together, our findings help to better understand the limitations of private adaptation and barriers to achieve transformative change, and identify how private adaptation could help improve societal resilience.


Maria-Therese Gustafsson

Stockholm University

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