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‘Permissible vulnerabilities? Examining cultural interpretations of climate risk and resilient adaptation strategies among urban elite in Mumbai’
Emily Boyd and Maxwell Boykoff
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds / Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
This paper looks at associated discourses and actions related to climate adaptation strategies in Mumbai India. In recent years, the majority of global human population now lives in urban spaces, and studies show that these trends will continue. Moreover, particularly in the last five years, city-level climate governance has emerged as a fascinating site of mitigation as well as adaptation policy engagement. The city of Mumbai – one of the most populous megacities on planet Earth – provides a space where these trends and movements coalesce in an instructive case: among the many reasons why, Mumbai is the financial and cultural capital in an important Annex II country (as delineated in the UNFCCC) in terms of 1) negotiations for the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol and 2) impacts and resilient adaptation strategies for a large number of city residents. Furthermore, the ‘trigger’ of the 26 July 2007 heavy rainfall in Mumbai – where large sections of heavily populated areas of the city were flooded – provides an event where threads of vulnerability, resilience, weather, climate, governance and adaptation became explicitly intertwined. Through elite stakeholder interviews as well as cross-national analyses of mass media discourse, we explore how expert-led scientific forecasts for climate change-related extreme events relate to cultural interpretations of climate risk and adaptation. Different country contexts – amid a complex web of factors – engender divergent perceptions and priorities in global climate change policy, politics and practices. In so doing, we endeavor to link with research conducted at the household level in order to better gauge cultural perceptions of climate risks and prospects for public as well as policy engagement in urban contexts. We then consider links to justice through a historical perspective as we explore how media framing – in combination with other dynamic and complex factors – has shaped citizen perceptions of climate policy responsibility and fairness regarding GHG emissions reductions, and ‘burden sharing’ of adaptation strategies. This research seeks to contribute to work that examines both impediments and opportunities shaping climate adaptation strategies, and seeks to identify key impediments to greater policy cooperation. Ultimately, we pursue this case study– and interactions therein – as a basis for further inter-national comparisons of non-state actors involved in dynamically changing urban vulnerabilities under climate change.
‘Experimenting with climate change: global cities and low carbon transitions’
Vanesa Castan Broto and Harriet Bulkeley
Department of Geography, Durham University
Over the past two decades, a growing body of work has drawn attention to the critical role of cities in responding to climate change. Implicit in this work has been the importance of urban infrastructure – such as energy supply, water and sanitation, or housing provision – in enabling and constraining such responses. However, As Monstadt (2009: 9) suggests “although networked infrastructures essentially shape the scope for urban governance, they have so far been a blind spot in contemporary governance studies.” In this paper, we argue that one promising avenue through which to examine the ways in which urban infrastructure networks enable and constrain the governing of climate change is through the analysis of niches or `experiments’. Such experiments may be based on the use of new technologies, designs or materials, such as photovoltaic’s or insulation, or on the development of new social practices or institutions, such as alternative forms of emissions trading or carbon offsetting. Drawing on preliminary analysis of a database of over 450 `climate change experiments’ taking place in 100 global cities from the ESRC Urban Transitions Climate Change Fellowship the paper will examine the aims, technologies, governance and impacts of urban climate change initiatives led by institutions, organizations or individuals. An analysis of these records will provide a global perspective on climate change actions at the city level, exploring how new technologies and social practices co-evolve, the varied geographies of these processes, and the implications for our understanding of urban socio-technical transitions.
‘Hybrid neoliberalism and transition economies: theorising the finance-planning nexus in the cleantech sector’
Federico Caprotti1 and Joanna Romanowicz2
1School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth
This paper argues that changed neoliberal forms of economic and financial governance have emerged from the crisis in the credit markets, and that actually existing neoliberalism can today be described as `hybrid neoliberalism’. This is characterized, first and foremost, by a financial and political landscape populated by what are termed `activist states’: those states which have started acting in ways akin to activist investors (such as value hedge funds and private equity firms) as a response to the crisis. States are therefore increasingly acting like investors, taking significant stakes not only in specific financial firms, but in strategic sectors of the economy, including the `green’ economy. Secondly, the paper argues that the large-scale deployment of `green’ stimulus programs and packages by a variety of countries, from the US to South Korea, can be analysed in light of hybrid neoliberalism. The paper focuses on the large amounts of stimulus funding allocated to green technology by a wide range of states, as a result of the recent development of new policy and economic drivers for what has been called the `low carbon economy’. Investing in green technology as part of recovery programs can be interpreted as a targeted, opportunistic strategy focused on recovery and the creation of potentially profitable and market-leading sectors within the domestic economy. Thus, activist states can be understood, in a hybrid neoliberal framework, as strategic and active investors in private firms, other states, and specific sectors within their own economies. The paper draws on case studies of the nexus between finance and planning in the case of Masdar eco-city in Abu Dhabi and Dongtan, China.
‘Consuming identities: Becoming an eco-home dweller’
Deptartment of Town & Regional Planning, University of Sheffield
The academic study of the consumption of housing has tended to focus on the purchasing or renting of a residential property and attention has been centred on issues such as residents’ choice, motivations and preferences in relation to different properties. With eco-housing, consumption is most frequently considered as the consumption of carbon, which is a measurable consumable which can be used to assess the eco-credentials of a particular house. However, such an object-orientated framework tends to ignore that the eco-home has the potential to effect, change, transform, modify and lead to transitions in how people live. This is echoed in policy initiatives which describe building sustainability in to new housing developments. There are however a number of ways of conceptualising these changes which can be regarded as a change in behavior and practice, the choice of a particular lifestyle, adoption of an eco-identity, a re-orientation of ethics, or a deeper effect on values and meanings. This paper argues that it is a consideration of values and meanings which will enable an understanding of the co-development of human and place-based eco-identities. The paper builds upon theories of the home as a place of belonging inscribed with the resident’s identity (Blunt and Dowling, 2006) and explores the impact of living in a house which is regarded as an exemplar of sustainable design. Specifically the paper will focus upon residents’ sense of responsibility to change their everyday practices in order to live up to the environmental ideals imbued in the housing development. A theoretical understanding, of how eco-identities develop over time and in place, emerges from an analysis of three case study eco-housing projects in the UK.
‘Influencing Environmental Policy-Making in Romania after the EU Accession: More of the Same Thing?’
Dr. Simona Davidescu
Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
This article looks at the extent to which Romania’s EU accession in January 2007 has brought any new developments in the area of environmental policy, for both central environmental institutions and the green movement. The article argues that three years after accession, environmental policy is a sector where the main institutional and civil society actors have readily adopted the European discourse, but their institutional practices have not been fully Europeanised. Furthermore, decision-making continues to be centralised, with limited participation opportunities from non-institutional actors.
Environmental NGOs have registered some success with campaigns initiated before accession, and are now focusing on monitoring the activity of the government and signalling infringements directly to European institutions, as they continue to claim that there is little scope for consultation and participation at the domestic level.
At the level of central environmental institutions the main concerns are further institutional reform and reorganisation, as well as `coping with Europe’, which are conducive to limited openness towards participatory decision-making.
The successive reorganisation of the main implementation institution, the Environmental Guard, coupled with frequent corruption scandals, some involving the mismanagement of European funding, and the criticism attracted by the latest policy initiatives of the Environment Ministry, such as the car tax, the hunting law and the strategy for sustainable development, amount to `more of the same’ problems that faced the environmental policy sector prior to accession.
For the green parties, participating in the European Parliament elections was seen as a last chance to gain some political capital. This has prompted mergers, internal power struggles and reorganisation, without much electoral success, as a result of the failure to address prior problems, such as the conflictual relations between the green parties and the environmental NGOs, the clientelistic structures within the parties and issues of corruption.
‘Winding paths, shifting landscapes: Transitions in sustainable practices on the individual and social scales’
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, The University of York
It is widely accepted that to address climate change and build a sustainable society, changes in individual behavior are required. But such lifestyle transitions can arguably only occur within the context of a broader socio-economic shift; a “whole-system” transition (POST, 2010). Recent work in several social science disciplines goes further, suggesting that we should understand individual activities as manifestations of “social practices”. These are larger-scale, longer-term configurations of ideas, skills and materials that “recruit” people, shaping their activities. But social practices are also shaped by practitioners, evolving as they are reproduced by individuals in their daily lives. A social practice approach provides a useful lens to explore the nature of transitions in individual lives, transitions on the social scale, and the relations between them.
This paper draws on an ongoing project which uses this approach to explore activities undertaken by individuals with the goal of addressing climate change. These can be practical or political activities, including grassroots/community activism and campaigns to change legislation. Drawing on concepts from Pred’s “Time Geography” and Lefebvre’s “Rhythmanalysis”, this paper discusses how and why individuals’ participation in these practices evolves, examining transitions within the life-course that represent both increases and decreases in activity. Particular attention is paid to periods of rapid transformation, and what Defra calls “moments of change”. Finally, by comparing cases, the paper discusses how sustainable practices have evolved on the social-historical scale since the mid-20th Century, and how transitions in individual lives are shaped by their location in specific times and places.
‘Energy transition and new frontiers of sustainability ‘
Department of Geography, The University of Manchester
Humanity is undergoing an uncharacteristic energy transition. For a first time, human kind is moving from cheap, high quality energy towards more expensive and lower quality energy. This undergoing energy transition will soon necessitate replacing nearly 20 million barrels per day of cheaply produced conventional oil with much more difficult to produce and expensive unconventional supply, in the form of renewable energy, biofuels and tar sands. Climate change considerations regarding the carbon footprint of fossil fuels is not the only driver of the energy transition. Oil wells are increasingly depleting, while the domestic oil use of oil exporting countries is fast increasing. This transition will push further and redefine what are perceived as sustainable energy resources and sustainable energy production. In the fast approaching world of scarcity, it is the rate of return on energy investment, rather than the financial rate of return, that will underpin our understanding of whether energy usage is sustainable. This rational suggests that resources that are subject to steadily declining rates of energy return are ultimately unsustainable sources of energy supply.
However, the institutions at the heart of energy governance are developing a sustainability agenda centred around developing energy production with marginal energy surplus and decreasing rate of return on energy investment. This is carried out via a set of governance mechanisms: such as the Global Green New Deal, Green Stimulus Packages and the Copenhagen Accord. International and national institutions alike are hard at work, repackaging the concept of sustainability, by unbundling the three key dimensions of dimensions of the energy transition: impending peak oil production, climate change and the struggle of developing nations to meet the energy needs of population and economic growth in a sustainable manner. This process allows addressing some elements of the energy transition paradigm in a commercially viable way, but in contradiction with the fundamental understanding of sustainability.
‘Planning for ‘sustainable’ futures: Nuclear power and the new authoritarianism’
Department of Geography, University of Exeter
This paper explores the transitions in governance structures surrounding nuclear power within the context of the drive towards ‘low carbon’ and ‘sustainable’ futures in the UK. It is argued that through developments such as the Infrastructure and Planning Commission (IPC) and National Policy Statements (NPS’s) for planning of large-scale developments such as nuclear, powerful discursive and practical processes of ‘rescaling’ are occurring. Here we are observing the establishment of more overtly authoritarian planning procedures, and abandonment of previously privileged concepts of ‘decentralized’ and ‘participatory’ governance in favour of more centralized ‘national’ and ‘streamlined’ strategies. Furthermore, this reveals tensions between local, regional, and national scales of engagement, and more widely still, between notions of ‘sustainability’ and ‘democracy’.
This paper has three main aims. Firstly, to situate what the author identifies as nuclear’s crucial role in the move towards more nationally oriented governance strategies. Secondly, to explore the new emerging spatialities of governance through an analysis of the discursive evolution within the UK Government’s policy documents towards more authoritarian planning procedures, justified through recourse to notions of ‘sustainable development’. Thirdly, these developments will be analyzed in terms of their implications for actors working at local and regional levels in relation to the nuclear issue, and the various ways in which these actors may be enabled or constrained through current processes of ‘rescaling’ and emerging governance configurations of an increasingly ‘post-political’ nature.
‘Urban transitions to low carbon energy systems in large cities of middle income countries’
Department of Geography, Durham University / Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy
Climate change is becoming an ever more pressing issue on urban agendas in the global north and south. As the Stern Review (2006) made clear, cities have a crucial role to play in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases accounting for over 70% of global emissions of carbon dioxide from anthropogenic sources. Given that between 2000 and 2030 the overwhelming majority of urban growth will happen in cities of low and middle-income countries (Cohen 2004), issues of climate mitigation in the urban areas of rapidly industrializing and other middle-income countries poses key conceptual and practical questions.
Cities are being recognized as a critical arena where the governance of climate change takes place (Betsil and Bulkeley 2007). Leading world cities in the north and the south are increasingly establishing city level policy frameworks and initiatives for addressing climate change, with a strong focus on initiatives that reduce emissions via local leadership, infrastructural change, and changing practice and user behavior (Bulkeley and Schroeder 2008).
This paper provides a preliminary understanding of the extent to which climate change mitigation is leading to the development and implementation of specific policies and projects in large cities in India and Latin America, with a particular focus on urban energy systems and their reconfiguration towards low carbon infrastructure models. The paper reviews the emerging governance and institutional frameworks to deal with city retrofitting and the urban transition of energy socio-technical systems towards low carbon models.
‘Financial impact of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the building sector’
Ouedraogo Bachir Ismael
School of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering, The University of Manchester
Today, there is a large consensus to identify the increase of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as the most probable cause for creating global warming. The energy consumption from the building sector is about 50% therefore, significant energy saving can be easily achieved through this sector. The combine effect of the increasing global population and the exponential increase in fuel price will put additional burden in the total energy consumption cost. According to the Stern report it is important to act now by investing in renewable source of energy and energy efficiency because inaction will result in catastrophic impact on the global economy.
The aim of this paper is to find out to which extent the increase in population, GDP per capita, urbanization and technology will affect the energy consumption. In addition, this paper will use the Finkelstein-Schafer statistic to model the future climate change and how it will affect building performance. This part will be followed up by scenarios in building design which will meet the standard comfort for people in building by using the IES program to design and simulate the building energy need for the course of a year.
Several type of renewable energy and various technologies in energy efficiency will be utilized for the IES simulation. Finally, it will then be possible to assess the financial present cost of the each scenario for the life time of the project.
The paper will try to demonstrate that with projected declining trend of renewable source of energy and energy efficiency cost, it is very profitable to go toward green buildings especially for developing countries.
‘People, Pumps and Pipes: Grassroots Responses to Changing Water Regulations in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin’
Guy M. Robinson
University of South Australia
This paper reports research examining responses of the members of an irrigation trust to changing government regulations on irrigation water from the river Murray in South Australia’s Riverlands. It addresses the social dimensions of National Water Initiative (NWI) reforms, with the aim of linking understanding of the nexus between policy and environmental behavior to advance knowledge of more sustainable water use. The NWI reforms fundamentally alter community management of irrigation service provision, with devolution of licenses to individual irrigators who will still rely on infrastructure provision services from irrigation trusts. Some farmers will trade opportunistically, increasing or decreasing their use of the local infrastructure in any season, with implications for the cost of providing irrigation services. Others will make permanent purchases or sales of water. These changes may potentially initiate unprecedented changes to the agricultural landscape, producing some land with dying fruit trees and vines, and unwitting consequences as farmers effectively abandon the land. It is critical that these new legislative arrangements be examined in the context of irrigators’ responses to change, as they may disrupt existing social networks and not deliver the improvements sought by the policy and associated legislative changes. The project is employing participatory action research to examine engagement with, resistance and adaptation to these new arrangements as the legislative changes take effect. The key aim is to investigate the social dynamics of inclusion among members of a large irrigation service provider as they respond to changing infrastructure requirements associated with regulatory reform.
‘Rethinking the Spaces and Institutions of Flood Governance in Hull’
University of Hull
Flood risk in the UK is governed by a complicated network of stakeholders. Traditionally, it was the remit of central government, however, over time, as with many other public services, devolution has extended to flood risk management. Local authorities have played an increasingly dominant role in the coordination of these services, and there has been a shift from government supremacy towards integrated governance systems made up of a variety of both government and non-governmental actors. In June 2007, the city of Kingston-upon-Hull was affected by unusually high rainfall which led to widespread flooding in the city. A “window of opportunity” opened up in the post-crisis environment which spurred two contrasting approaches to flood risk management into action. A national review of government led flood risk management policies was undertaken, meanwhile many communities organised themselves into groups to take independent action. In theory, the two approaches have a shared goal of locally tailored, holistic, integrated flood governance. This study will explore the reality of the situation; investigating the interactions between top-down government led action and bottom-up community based initiatives, exploring the partnerships and conflicts that existed prior to the 2007 floods, the way in which they have been reconfigured since 2007, and finally, the compatibility of the two approaches in the real world.
‘Holistic and sustainable behavioural change through means of teaching and learning’
University of Exeter
This research paper’s broad approach is to explore learning and teaching for and `as’ sustainability in a holistic context and to understand the relationships between `ways’ of learning and teaching alongside actual content. Education and learning for and `as’ sustainability in the context of the current debate on climate change is important since education is a critical social influence that initiates behavioral change. This paper will highlight the importance of investigating how to encourage and trigger holistic and sustainable behavioral change by means of education. This paper’s central emphasis is the presentation of an enhanced model of behavioral change applying a methodology that will be tested and evaluated within the educational sector in a comparative context. Test methods will be identified by their degree of innovation, and will include forms of teaching that have a participatory approach, where the student and not the teacher is the centre of attention. Recent research has primarily focused on attitude change in relation to consumer habits and life styles and the emphasis in these research projects has been on the extent to which people consume in a sustainable manner – whether they are socially aware, frugal or environmentally concerned. So far, little effort has been put into exploring how behavior can potentially be changed by applying different forms of teaching and learning. These challenges are only likely to be managed if current research on education implements a more holistic approach to this problem. Education and learning for and `as’ sustainability can potentially create critical minds that reflect on behavior and initiate behavioral change caused by that reflection process.
‘Beyond the Convention: Mainstreaming landscape into research and policy agendas’
Birmingham City University
Academics and policy makers seeking to understand and manage landscape change face major challenges conceptually, methodologically and institutionally. Landscape is a “fuzzy” concept lacking a clear and coherent identity and a relatively weak status in land use matters, often subservient to other economic, social and environmental interests. However, set within new multi-disciplinary and spatial planning agendas, considerable potential exists for a rejuvenation of the landscape agenda. This paper assesses the status and prospects for a more landscape-led science and policy through the vehicle of the European Landscape Convention. Drawing from various exemplars across Scotland, comparative analyses reveal real and meaningful progress on a variety of landscape fronts addressing public involvement, policy integration, governance, evidence and training. However, these case studies are still the exception rather than the rule and there is a need to identify and mainstream their common ingredients more widely into research, policy and practice. In so doing, significant institutional myopia still needs to be addressed to achieve the change of landscape culture that is now required.
‘Community-led urban transitions and resilience: performing Transition Towns in a city’
Nottingham Trent University
In the UK we have witnessed numerous efforts, at a range of governance levels, to facilitate transitions towards low carbon economies and places. For instance, the recent Climate Change Bill (2008) is underpinned by a key aim of facilitating the transition to a low carbon economy. Increasingly the claims for these transitions have been grounded in concerns for managing risk, energy security, fostering resilience and adapting to changing (global and local) environments. A number of cities in UK have taken initiatives to move the agenda further, such as the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. However, top-down, centrally-led, initiatives have seen limited progress in terms of galvanizing public support or bringing about local level changes in attitudes and behaviors. Yet, the grassroots Transitions Town movement, initiated in 2006 in Totnes, Devon by the permaculturalist Rob Hoskins, has seen considerable uptake within the UK and across the globe. The movement (or culture as it is sometimes described) focuses on supporting “community-led responses to peak oil and climate change, building resilience and happiness” (Hopkins and Lipman, 2008). To date there are nearly 300 Transition Town Initiatives (they range in scale including forests, islands, villages, towns and cities) in countries across the world, including Australia, Japan, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Chile, the Netherlands, Canada and the USA.
The aim of this paper is to employ a discursive analytical approach to explore the performative nature of the discourses employed by the Transition Towns. This reveals why and how the movement has been so effective at galvanizing public support and moving forward key notions of urban transitioning and fostering resilience. It also reveals discursive forms of power and specific forms of social capital involved in such grassroots movements. Case study material from the Transition Network in Nottingham will be addressed, alongside materials draw from the wider Transitions movement. The speed with which the movement has spread and its ability to speak to all geographical scales provides useful material for addressing understandings of transitions, the ways in which cities might shape transitions and methodologies for researching urban transitions.
‘Government support mechanisms for renewable energy and the transition to low carbon communities’
University of Exeter
This paper analyses government support mechanisms that enable geographical communities to take measures to reduce their carbon footprint through renewable energy production, both for use within the community and for national grid supply. The main focus is on recent changes in regulation relating to the deployment of low carbon energy technologies in communities and households, in particular the feed-in tariff. This support mechanism guarantees a remuneration for every kWh (kilowatt hour) fed into the national electricity network for a fixed period of time, which is usually 20 years depending on the technology. Other European countries have seen rapid deployment of low carbon renewable energy technologies following the introduction of the feed-in tariff and the implementation in the UK might trigger a more rapid uptake of renewables compared to the comparatively low deployment rates experienced in the UK over the last decade.
By drawing on historical levels of renewable energy deployment in the UK and other EU countries and comparing government support mechanism this paper will show that the implementation of the feed-in tariff has proven to be the most successful support mechanism for renewable energy technologies. Successful international examples of low carbon communities will give an insight what a feed-in tariff can potentially achieve and this will be followed by an analysis of the UK’s Government support for renewables relating to community projects. The final sectors will give an insight into the UK’s favourable geographical properties relating to the production of renewable energy.
Gavin Brown *, Caroline Upton, Peter Kraftl and Jenny Pickerill
University of Leicester
There is a need to consider the multiple conceptual understandings, practical uses and discursive effects of ‘transition’. Transitions is an increasingly used word, but little critiqued in terms of its meaning and implications. We want to go beyond simply considering different sites or scales of transition and instead interrogate the very notion of transition, highlighting its multiple meanings, and yet overlapping premise. We want to argue that these discourses need to be integrated to explore transition, both theoretically and in its emergence as a practical political tool for social change. It is a powerful tool yet without an understanding of its multiplicity it can become homogenising, failing to deal with diverse publics and issues of translation. Using some very different examples of ‘transition’ we wish to reclaim this complexity and explore how we, as geographers, could make better use of transitions – both theoretically and practically.
‘What’s Place got to do with it? Local Innovations supporting the Transition to Low Carbon Futures’
University of Westminster
NESTA’s Big Green Challenge (BGC) generated 355 ideas from 3rd sector organisations for ways to achieve significant and durable levels of carbon saving. Around half chose a specific place-based way to engage with their community and far more had a strong local dimension (Steward et al, 2009). Initiatives by government (e.g. Low Carbon Zones) and utilities (e.g. Green Streets) also suggest recognition of a geographical dimension to tackling climate change.
Yet what this local dimension is expected to contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy is rarely articulated. Often it is merely seen as a geographical location for change rather than as a sociological situation for understanding the form and process of that change. For initiatives which focus on changing individuals’ behaviour the concept of place often merely denotes a boundary around a target group of individuals.
In contrast this paper uses concepts of sociotechnical innovation as ‘situated practices’ to interpret the ideas submitted to the BGC where place was actively engaged. These include initiatives which sought to achieve a low carbon transition through a focus on a particular village or town; on a significant building; or on a located group such as a school population. It will explore the strategic capabilities deployed in such distinctive sites for successful low carbon innovation.
Steward, F.; Liff, S. & Dunkelman, M. (2009) Mapping the Big Green Challenge: An analysis of 355 community proposals for low carbon innovation. Available from http://www.appleby.ltd.uk