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Sustainable development paths: investigating the roots of local policy responses to climate change


  • Sarah Burch


As the implications of a changing climate come into focus, attention must shift to effectively stimulating action in response to this dramatically pervasive phenomenon. Responses to climate change, however, are embedded in institutional procedures, technological pathways and cultural practices that are characterized by deep inertia. By paying express attention to linkages among disciplines, this paper takes steps towards contributing a richer definition of the development path concept, identifying realms of inquiry that may together be called a ‘development path’ literature and discussing ways in which this sheds light on effective responses to global climate change. This paper reveals the value of fundamentally inter-disciplinary approaches to climate change responses, the necessity of a deeper understanding of the context of action on climate change and the ubiquity of path dependence. Rooted in the underlying socio‐technical, institutional and socio‐cultural development paths, barriers to action may best be addressed through contextually specific, inter‐disciplinary analyses of collective human behaviour. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Burch, 2011. "Sustainable development paths: investigating the roots of local policy responses to climate change," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 176-188, May/June.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:19:y:2011:i:3:p:176-188

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nadine Marshall & Chris Stokes, 2014. "Identifying thresholds and barriers to adaptation through measuring climate sensitivity and capacity to change in an Australian primary industry," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 399-411, October.


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