Rethinking Urban Transitions

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Rethinking Urban Transitions provides critical insight for societal and policy debates about the potential and limits of low carbon urbanism. It draws on over a decade of international research, undertaken by scholars across multiple disciplines concerned with analysing and shaping urban sustainability transitions. It seeks to open up the possibility of a new generation of urban low carbon transition research, which foregrounds the importance of political, geographical and developmental context in shaping the possibilities for a low carbon urban future. The book’s contributions propose an interpretation of urban low carbon transitions as primarily social, political and developmental processes. Rather than being primarily technical efforts aimed at measuring and mitigating greenhouse gases, the low carbon transition requires a shift in the mode and politics of urban development. The book argues that moving towards this model requires rethinking what it means to design, practise and mobilize low carbon in the city, while also acknowledging the presence of multiple and contested developmental pathways. Key to this shift is thinking about transitions, not solely as technical, infrastructural or systemic shifts, but also as a way of thinking about collective futures, societal development and governing modes–a recognition of the political and contested nature of low carbon urbanism. The various contributions provide novel conceptual frameworks as well as empirically rich cases through which we can begin to interrogate the relevance of socio-economic, political and developmental dimensions in the making or unmaking of low carbon in the city. The book draws on a diverse range of examples (including ‘world cities’ and ‘ordinary cities’) from North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, India and China, to provide evidence that expectations, aspirations and plans to undertake purposive socio-technical transitions are both emerging and encountering resistance in different urban contexts. Rethinking Urban Transitions is an essential text for courses concerned with cities, climate change and environmental issues in sociology, politics, urban studies, planning, environmental studies, geography and the built environment.

Table of contents

Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of tables
Notes on contributors
1. Introduction
2. Rethinking urban transitions: an analytical framework
PART I: Technologies, materialities, infrastructures
3. Seeking effective infrastructures of decarbonization in Paris: material politics of socio-technical change
4. Legacies of energy autarky for low carbon urban transitions: a comparison of Berlin and Hong Kong
5. The amenable city-region: the symbolic rise and the relative decline of Greater Manchester’s low carbon commitments, 2006–17
6. What is ‘carbon neutral’? Planning urban deep decarbonization in North America
PART II: Intermediation and governance
7. Reconfiguring spatial boundaries and institutional practices: mobilizing and sustaining urban low carbon transitions in Victoria, Australia
8. Strong local government moving to the market? The case of low carbon futures in the city of Örebro, Sweden
9. Examining urban Africa’s low carbon and energy transition pathways
10. Localizing environmental governance in India: mapping urban institutional structures
PART III: Communities and subjectivities
11. Governing carbon conduct and subjects: insights from Australian cities
12. Cultural conflicts and decarbonization pathways: urban intensification politics as a site of contestation in Ottawa
13. Post-development carbon
14. Conclusion

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