LO-ACT project ouputs
LO-ACT is looking at the 'ordinary actions' taken by citizens to improve everyday life
whilst tackling climate change.
We will use this page to showcase outputs linked to the project.
1. Urban Sustainability and Justice
Urban Sustainability and Justice
'Urban Sustainability and Justice presents an innovative yet practical approach to incorporate equity and social justice into sustainable development in urban areas, in line with the commitments of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. This work proposes a feminist reading of just sustainabilities' principles to reclaim sustainability as a progressive discourse which informs action on the ground. This work will help the committed activist (whether they are on the ground, working in a community, in a non-governmental organization (NGO), in a business, at a university, in any sphere in government) to connect their work to international efforts to deliver environmental justice in cities around the world.
Drawing on a comparative, international analysis of sustainability initiatives in over 200 cities, Castán Broto and Westman find limited evidence of the implementation of just sustainabilities principles in practice, but they argue that there is considerable potential to develop a justice-oriented sustainability agenda. Highlighting current successes while also assessing prospects for the future, the authors show that just sustainabilities is not merely an aspirational discourse, but a frame of reference to support radical action on the ground.'
2. Two Waves of Research on
Urban Climate Governance
Ten years after Copenhagen:
Reimagining climate change governance in urban areas
As part of the project work programme, LO-ACT team conducted a literature review of 383 articles that present social sciences analyses of climate change action in urban areas.
This highlighted two moments of acceleration.
'In this review, we take stock of the last decade of research on climate change governance in urban areas since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. Using a systematic evaluation of academic publications in the field, we argue that the current moment of research has been shaped by two recent waves of thought. The first, a wave of urban optimism, which started in 2011 and peaked in 2013, engaged with urban areas as alternative sites for governance in the face of the crumbling international climate regime. The second, a wave of urban pragmatism, which started in 2016, has sought to reimagine urban areas following the integration of the “sub‐national” as a meaningful category in the international climate regime after the 2015 Paris Agreement for Climate Action. Four themes dominate the debate on climate change governance in urban areas: why there is climate action, how climate action is delivered, how it is articulated in relation to internationally reaching networks, and what implications it has to understand environmental or climate justice within urban settings. Calls to understand the impacts of climate change policy have fostered research on climate change politics, issues of power and control, conflicts, and the inherently unjust nature of much climate policy. What is largely missing from the current scholarship is a sober assessment of the mundane aspects of climate change governance on the ground and a concern with what kind of cultural and socio‐economic change is taking place, beyond comparative analyses of the effectiveness of climate policies.'
The urban energy transition represents a transformation of such magnitude that it will require a re-examination of the fundamental relationship between societies and energy resources. The potential for cities to deliver sustainable energy for their citizens requires context-specific action. One-size-fits-all approaches - which assume homogeneity across cities and economies of scale in the extension of electricity networks - have largely failed to deliver sustainable energy for all. This challenge is existential, questioning the fundamental ways in which contemporary life is organized around energy. This innovative volume argues that the urban energy transition depends on specific urban trajectories and heterogeneous urban energy landscapes, reflecting both strategic projects of urbanization and people's dwelling practices. Looking at in-depth case studies of urban energy landscapes in four major cities, it calls for citizens' active engagement with experimentation in everyday life. The book will have wide interdisciplinary appeal to researchers in energy, urban and environmental studies.
4. The Future of Climate Urbanism:
the second Sheffield Urbanism lecture series
About the event
The Sheffield Urbanism Lecture series is an initiative of the Urban Institute to generate provocative and nonstandard propositions for understanding processes of urbanization and urban life. It is intended as a space to reimagine both the conceptualizations and narratives of urban studies.
The multiple lives of climate urbanism
Professor Vanesa Castán Broto opens the lecture series by exploring the emergence of climate urbanism and
its current manifestations across different geographies, with particular attention to the ways in which climate
urbanism is reinforcing urban inequalities and producing new ones.
Technologies of climate urbanism
Professor Simon Marvin considers how climate urbanism has generated new arguments for the enhanced and accelerated technification of urban society and incorporating technology into urban environments. The talk considers the intertwining of climate turbulence and vital system security examining how this is accelerating.
Queering climate urbanism
Professor Vanesa Castán Broto concludes the series by investigating alternative perspectives on climate urbanism that are looking to disrupt existing understandings about how to take action and with what purpose. The lecture will consider what kinds of orientations are deployed within climate urbanism, and the extent to which reparative alternatives are even possible.
5. Reparative innovation
for urban climate adaptation
Scholars of climate urbanism have raised the conundrum that action to address the ongoing challenges of climate change in cities have distributional impacts, deepening existing inequalities. This challenge is related in part to the ideas of urban innovation that dominate climate responses. Disruptive innovations are directed towards the rupture of existing systems of knowledge, seeking to create new ways of looking at the problem. The emerging scholarship on climate urbanism suggests that measures to adapt to climate change in urban environments heeding a disruptive narrative have uneven impacts and too often disadvantage the most vulnerable communities. In this article, we ask what it means to look for reparative innovation for climate change adaptation instead. Reparative thought has influenced different debates on climate change adaptation and other issues related to social justice, from dealing with the aftermath of conflicts to engaging in reparative experiences to deal with trauma. Critical theory has also looked into reparation as a means to engage with reparative understandings of cultural objects and heritage. We argue for a focus on reparative innovation to open up alternative innovation frameworks that acknowledge existing material urban histories and engage with the multiple forms of knowledge within the urban experience that support climate adaptation.
6. Urban transformations
to keep it all the same
The concept of urban transformations has gathered interest among scholars and policymakers calling for radical change towards sustainability. The discourse represents an entry point to address systemic causes of ecological degradation and social injustice, thereby providing solutions to intractable global challenges. Yet, so far, urban transformations projects have fallen short of delivering significant action in cities. The limited ability of this discourse to enable change is, in our view, linked with a broader dynamic that threatens progressive commitments to knowledge pluralism. There are discourses that, cloaked in emancipatory terminology, prevent the flourishing of radical ideas. The ivy is a metaphor to understand how such discourses operate. Ivy discourses grow from a radical foundation, but they do so while reproducing assumptions and values of mainstream discourses. We are concerned that urban transformations functions as an ivy discourse, which reproduces rather than challenges knowledge systems and relations that sustain hegemony.