Lindsay Ratcliffe, Ph.D., is a 2022 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Jimmy Karlan, Ed.D., Committee Chair
  • Jason Rhoades, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Kenneth Walker, Ph.D., Committee Member


climate action plan (CAP), climate action and adaptation plan (CAAP), climate equity, transformative adaptation discourse, critical discourse analysis, rhetorical analysis

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As climate change accelerates and social inequity grows, adaptation planning and policy must respond to both problems. Adaptation scholars increasingly call for transformative solutions that not only address problems with the status quo but articulate ethical commitments to justice and equity. City climate action and adaptation plans (CAAPs) have begun to center these commitments, but little is known about how such responses become articulated and change as CAAPs are developed and passed. This dissertation, a critical case study of San Antonio’s first CAAP, SA Climate Ready, addresses this gap by focusing on changes to the discourse of climate equity during the planning and drafting phases. Combining critical discourse analysis and rhetorical analysis methodologies, the study examined claims about climate equity and climate action, as well as the value resonances conveyed by these claims. The dataset included transcripts of 45 planning meetings in 2018 and three CAAP drafts published in 2019. Findings suggest that climate equity discourse was backgrounded, and economic arguments for climate action foregrounded, to appeal to decision-makers’ values and priorities. Identifying four rhetorical constraints contributing to these changes and four recommendations for mitigating these constraints, this study has implications for transformative climate planning and policymaking in other contexts.


Lindsay Ratcliffe

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0001-9961-6355