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Analysis of the social dimensions of climate change impacts and development of correspondingly differentiated policy instruments



Jul 01, 2022 — Jul 31, 2025

Partners: IFOK, Sociodimension, Helmholtz Zentrum München 

The ecological and economic consequences of climate change have been studied comprehensively. In contrast, social effects have been less addressed, although they are evenly relevant. For example, future climate change consequences will exacerbate existing inequalities in income and wealth, health disadvantages, and influence other social aspects, such as opportunities for participation or gender equality. These and other social dimensions of the necessary adaptation to climate change should also be given greater consideration in German adaptation policy. 

Current and expected climate change impacts affect regions, sectors and population groups in Germany in distinct ways. The focus of the research project lies on disadvantaged population groups, especially vulnerable milieus. 

Therefore, the aim of the project is to develop and assess new political measures for addressing socially disadvantaged milieus more appropriately with climate change adaptation policies. This aim is achieved through a multi-stage process: Firstly, the state of the art is comprehensively reviewed. The review covers research on which groups are affected disproportionately severely from climate change impacts and what that means for the existing policy-mix of climate change adaptation policy. Resulting from the findings of this study, “adaptation milieus” are derived. 

Secondly, social inequalities are examined with respect to climate change-caused heat-related health strains. 

Thirdly, a participatory format will be executed that involves randomly selected citizens to talk about climate change impacts, to identify needs and elaborate options for action. 

Finally, the overall results are summarized to derive needs and options for a further development of the German climate change adaptation policy. Crucial therefore is the extension and distinction of the existing policy-mix to cover social milieus.