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  • Writer's pictureErika Conchis

Article: Splintering Urbanism and Climate Breakdown

'There are some signs that we may be entering a new era of green infrastructure spending in 2021. The climate breakdown increasingly calls for an infrastructure response. Flooding, rising sea levels, heatwaves, droughts, and insect outbreaks—all possible climate change results—will directly affect infrastructures (IPCC, 2018). Infrastructures in sectors like energy and transport are also central to addressing climate change, both by reducing overall carbon emissions and increasing the resilience of current ways of living. Public spending is a condition to deliver robust responses to climate change.

Spending, however, is unlikely to lead to a radical rethinking of current infrastructure models. Current infrastructure systems drive the rise of carbon emissions. The IPCC (2018) has called for infrastructure-based measures to leapfrog towards less carbon-intensive technologies and decouple economic growth from energy demand and CO2 emissions. Maintaining societies and economies within planetary limits requires an infrastructure transformation (Fazey et al., 2018). New infrastructural models are also needed to enable large-scale responses to avoid the lock-in of carbon emissions, address cascading risks, and facilitate mitigation through synergistic effects of interventions in multiple sectors. Yet, radical proposals to rethink infrastructure are few and far between. For example, the International Energy Agency’s last report on renewables shows that climate change concerns have encouraged sizeable energy-related investments (IEA, 2020). However, according to the IEA estimates, over half of the energy-related funds in stimulus packages announced by governments (US $470 billion globally plus USD $840 billion within the European Union) are relief funds. The remaining funds prioritize energy efficiency and transport improvements over renewable and network investments, hardly creating opportunities for an infrastructure overhaul.'

The full article is available on T&F's Journal of Urban Technology

Splintering Urbanism and Climate Breakdown is one of the 20 commentaries on two decades of Splintering Urbanism: Splintering Urbanism at 20

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Published online: 07/01/2022

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