Coping Strategies

We are pleased to launch a global inventory of the coping strategies that people, organisations and institutions are using to respond to the pressures introduced by global decarbonisation efforts.

Boxberg/Oberlausitz, Germany – Photo by Torsten Kellermann

CINTRAN Inventory of Coping Strategies

Coping strategies differ based on who is doing the coping, the resources and connections they have available to them, their local context, and their national policy context. For example, the coping strategies of local governments in coal-intensive regions in Germany are very different from those of oil shale workers in Estonia because they have different capacities and are working in different environments.

The purpose of this inventory is to record and study all the different coping strategies being used. It will help us understand how we can help different actors “cope” in ways that work towards global decarbonisation, while ensuring overall general wellbeing for the people, communities and institutions that are experiencing changes.

Inventory progress

The inventory is a work in progress. At present, it contains information on the coping strategies being used in the four CINTRAN focus regions: Western Macedonia (Greece), Silesia (Poland), Ida-Virumaa (Estonia) and the Rhenish mining area (Germany). Over the next nine months, it will be expanded and refined to include strategies from around the world.

We welcome submissions to the inventory from the general public. If you would like to record a coping strategy for inclusion in the inventory, you can do so using the online questionnaire linked below.


How can I contribute to the inventory of coping strategies?

The CINTRAN project is interested in coping strategies in response to any kind of decarbonisation strategy, and from any part of the world. Completing the survey should take 8-10 minutes.

 

Access the survey (in English). | Access the German survey. |Access the Polish survey. | Access the Greek survey. | Access the Estonian survey. | See our Participant Information Sheet here.


The inventory will be hosted on the CINTRAN project website in a browsable and searchable format. The full database, categorised by actor, type of strategy, and a number of other parameters (discussed below), will eventually be available for download as a spreadsheet for those interested in the data used to determine the strategies.

Inventory organisation

Strategy types and effectiveness

We have identified three main ways that actors cope with decarbonisation policies and their implications. Strategies can resist decarbonisation activities, adapt to decarbonisation and the changes it creates, or attempt to transform the existing system through fundamentally new ways of thinking, acting, doing and organising. Actors can cope either in anticipation of coming changes, or in response to changes that have already happened.

Actors can also approach coping strategies in different ways. They can either cope by actually doing something, or they can cope by saying they will do something (i.e. by using rhetoric). For example, several energy companies in Germany coped with decarbonisation policies by acting to lay off coal plant workers. However, company managers first usually employed rhetorical strategies by providing comments in the national newspaper saying that they will be forced to lay off workers if decarbonisation policies are pursued. These are two different, but related, strategies.

Some strategies are more effective than others in moving toward ongoing decarbonisation in a way that supports decent livelihoods. Inventory entries are thus categorised according to their relative success, and whether this supports or hinders decarbonisation. Strategy success is also fluid. For example, a strike against coal mine closure might be very effective in early to middle transition phases, but ineffective when the transition is more progressed.


What are the different types of coping strategies?

  • Resistance strategies seek to preserve current conditions and resist drivers of change. Read more.
  • Adaptation strategies attempt to protect the functioning of the existing system from substantial change. Read more.
  • Transformative coping strategies challenge the stability of the existing system by introducing fundamentally new ways of thinking, acting, doing and organising. Read more.

Coping actors

Different people and groups cope in different ways. While a regional government might cope with oil industry decline by offering incentives to attract renewable energy industries to the region, a recently unemployed mine worker has different options. The worker may be limited to resistance actions like protest, adaptation actions like relocating to a different region with better job prospects, or undergoing a personal transformation by going back to school to retrain for a new profession.

Given the wide range of strategies available to different actors, the inventory is also categorised according to actor type. This includes, but is not limited to, governments at different levels, carbon-intensive industries, decarbonised energy and other industries, non-governmental organisations, citizen’s groups, unions, carbon industry employees, and members of the general public.

Transition phases

Different “coping strategies” reflect how progressed the transition is in a given location (i.e. the transition phase), and the resources and capacities of the actor who is coping.

During early transition phases, carbon-intensive industries are still locked in and dominant. There are often strong trade unions for coal, oil, or gas workers, and a high level of political support for these industries. While there is some economic and social pressure to begin decarbonising, very little is actually done. At this stage, few coping strategies are required. However, some actors who will suffer from decarbonisation policies may begin to employ rhetorical resistance strategies. A company threatening to lay off workers is one example of this.

Middle transition phases are much more unstable. High carbon systems actively begin to transition and there is significant resistance to changes. New technologies become more competitive and interests tied up in high carbon sectors are increasingly threatened. Most high-carbon regions around the world are currently at this stage.

At middle transition phases, resistance strategies are common, and adaptation strategies begin to emerge. Transformative strategies may also start to emerge but they are often difficult to spot and only become apparent in retrospect.

In the final transition phase, carbon-intensive activities have almost entirely phased out. Most carbon-based industries and regions have either adapted, or declined. New companies and industries based on renewables are dominant. Resistance strategies still persist at this stage. However, they are less common, and also less effective. Adaptation strategies also persist as actors continue to respond to changing conditions. Transformative strategies become clearer as society reorganises around different technologies, ideas, and ways of thinking and being.

 

Funding

The project CINTRAN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 884539. The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of INEA or other EU agencies or bodies.