1st Edition

Rethinking Urban Transitions Politics in the Low Carbon City

    274 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    274 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    List of contributors



    1. Introduction
    2. Andrés Luque-Ayala, Simon Marvin and Harriet Bulkeley

    3. Rethinking urban transitions: an analytical framework
    4. Andrés Luque-Ayala, Harriet Bulkeley and Simon Marvin


      Part I: Technologies, materialities, infrastructures

    5. Seeking effective infrastructures of decarbonisation in Paris: material politics of socio-technical change
    6. Jonathan Rutherford

    7. Legacies of energy autarky for low carbon urban transitions: a comparison of Berlin and Hong Kong
    8. Tim Moss and Maria Francesch-Huidobro

    9. The amenable city-region: the symbolic rise and the relative decline of Greater Manchester’s low carbon commitments, 2006-2017
      Mike Hodson, Simon Marvin and Andy McMeekin
    10. What is ‘carbon neutral’? Planning urban deep decarbonisation in North America
    11. Laura Tozer


      Part II: Intermediation and governance

    12. Reconfiguring spatial boundaries and institutional practices: mobilizing and sustaining urban low carbon transitions in Victoria, Australia
    13. Susie Moloney and Ralph Horne

    14. Strong local government moving to the market? The case of low carbon futures in the city of Örebro, Sweden
    15. Mikael Granberg

    16. Examining urban Africa’s low-carbon and energy transition pathways
    17. Jonathan Silver and Simon Marvin

    18. Localising environmental governance in India: mapping urban institutional structures
    19. Neha Sami


      Part III: Communities and subjectivities

    20. Governing carbon conduct and subjects: insights from Australian cities
    21. Robyn Dowling, Pauline McGuirk and Harriet Bulkeley

    22. Cultural conflicts and decarbonisation pathways: urban intensification politics as a site of contestation in Ottawa
    23. Matthew Paterson and Merissa Mueller

    24. Postdevelopment carbon
    25. Andrés Luque-Ayala



    26. Conclusions

    Simon Marvin, Andrés Luque-Ayala and Harriet Bulkeley




    Andrés Luque-Ayala is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University, UK.

    Simon Marvin is Director of the Urban Institute and Professor at the University of Sheffield, UK. 

    Harriet Bulkeley is Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University, UK.