MOJO April 2013
This month’s MoJO features a paper from the journal Cities exploring the history of climate change and policy in Manchester, along with a number of articles discussing our city and climatic issues. To find out more about just how predictable future political and climate crises may be; how recycling can reduce political polarisation, and the concept of climate justice, read on…
[Selection of articles by MCFly volunteer Claire Woolley]
Capitalism Nature Socialism (Vol. 24, issue 1)
4 Scenarios for 2050
“The future of our terrestrial civilization is predictable. I expect objections pointing out that societal evolution is even more contingent on unknown variable factors than the history of life, assuming the canonical view of neo-Darwinian evolution, which emphasizes the highly unpredictable nature of biological evolution. Neo-Darwinian evolution is held to be strongly influenced by mass extinctions triggered by asteroid impacts and volcanic activity. But in the case of contemporary society, we can already recognize factors that tend to narrow possibilities into predictable directions. The greatest threat to humans and nature now is the Military Industrial (Fossil Fuel/Nuclear/State Terror) Complex, which is at the core of global capital reproduction. Thus, in the absence of this Complex’s near future dissolution, we can anticipate a finite probability of a near future nuclear war or, even more likely, a climate catastrophe that could rival the end Mesozoic mass extinction 65 million years ago. Human civilization and existing biodiversity would not likely survive the former, while mammals and even some dinosaurs (birds) survived the latter. Catastrophe is inherently unpredictable. Or, perhaps not. Perhaps it is even avoidable.”
Climatic change (Vol. 117, issue 3)
Climatic Change Impacts: accounting for the human response
“The assessment of potential impacts of climate change is progressing from taxonomies and enumeration of the magnitude of potential direct effects on individuals, societies, species, and ecosystems according to a limited number of metrics toward a more integrated approach that also encompasses the vast range of human response to experience and risk. Recent advances are both conceptual and methodological, and include analysis of some consequences of climate change that were heretofore intractable. In this article, I review a selection of these developments and represent them through a handful of illustrative cases. A key characteristic of the emerging areas of interest is a focus on understanding how human responses to direct impacts of climate change may cause important indirect and sometimes distant impacts. This realization underscores the need to develop integrated approaches for assessing and modelling impacts in an evolving socioeconomic and policy context”
Antipode (Early view, 31 July 2012)
Articulating climate justice in Copenhagen: antagonism, the commons, and solidarity
Chatterton, P.; Featherstone, D.; Routledge, P.
“Articulations of climate justice were central to the diverse mobilisations that opposed the Copenhagen Climate Talks in December 2009. This paper contends that articulations of climate justice pointed to the emergence of three co-constitutive logics: antagonism, the common(s), and solidarity. Firstly, we argue that climate justice involves an antagonistic framing of climate politics that breaks with attempts to construct climate change as a “post-political” issue. Secondly, we suggest that climate justice involves the formation of pre-figurative political activity, expressed through acts of commoning. Thirdly, we contend that climate justice politics generates solidarities between differently located struggles and these solidarities have the potential to shift the terms of debate on climate change. Bringing these logics into conversation can develop the significance of climate justice for political practice and strategy. We conclude by considering what is at stake in different articulations of climate justice and tensions in emerging forms of climate politics”
Antipode (Vol. 41, issue 4)
Gendered geographies of environmental justice
Buckingham, S.; Kulcur, R.
“ As environmental justice concerns become more widely embedded in environmental organizations and policymaking, and increasingly the focus of academic study, the gender dimension dissolves into an exclusive focus on race/ethnicity and class/income. While grassroots campaigning activities were often dominated by women, in the more institutionalized activities of organizations dominated by salaried professionals, gender inequality is neglected as a vector of environmental injustice, and addressing this inequality is not considered a strategy for redress. This paper explores some of the reasons why this may be so, which include a lack of visibility of gendered environmental injustice; professional campaigning organizations which are themselves gender blind; institutions at a range of scales which are still structured by gender (as well as class and race) inequalities; and an intellectual academy which continues to marginalize the study of gender—and women’s—inequality. The authors draw on experience of environmental activism, participant observation, and other qualitative research into the gendering of environmental activity, to first explore the constructions of scale to see how this might limit a gender-fair approach to environmental justice. Following this, the practice of “gender mainstreaming” in environmental organizations and institutions will be examined, demonstrating how this is limited in scope and fails to impact on the gendering of environmental injustice”
Antipode (Vol. 38, issue 2)
“Give up activism” and change the world in unknown ways: or, learning to walk with others on uncommon ground
“This article reflects on a politics of hope, silence and commonality through some extended conversations with members of the public during a demonstration which shut down an oil refinery in Nottingham. My reflections concern the concept of uncommon ground, where there are encounters between activists and their others. While conversations on uncommon ground highlight the entrenched nature of many social roles, possible connections open up by highlighting how they are always emotionally laden, relationally negotiated, hybrid, corporeal and contingent. Hence, the paper addresses the potentialities for extending dialogue on uncommon ground into common places. A key element relates to the need to transcend the role of the activist, to literally give up activism. This article builds upon normative, participatory and libertarian approaches in Geography which propose what could become possible by working with others towards mutual aid and self-management. In essence, learning to walk with others helps us to counteract universalist solutions and instead assemble toolkits for developing contextualised and workable alternatives to life under capitalism”
Cities (Vol. 29, issue 4)
Climatic city: two centuries of urban planning and climate science in Manchester (UK) and its region
“This paper traces the history, and current challenges, of climate science and urban design in Greater Manchester, UK. The Mancunian metropolis is a remarkable example of a ‘climatic city’, one that shapes its climate as much as it is shaped by it. From the efforts to control smoke and clear slums in the 19th century, to today’s race to be at the forefront of ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ cities, climate is a central actor in Manchester’s history and will likely be so in the near future. We analyse the continuities and inflections of this history of climate science and urban planning in the metropolis by drawing on historical material and interviews with key local stakeholders, to understand the natural, social and political construction of this singular ‘industrial ecology’. Ultimately, we ask whether stakeholders in the Greater Manchester area can overcome existing challenges to go towards a greener, more resilient and sustainable city”
Environmental Politics (Vol. 22, issue 2)
Trash or treasure: recycling narratives and reducing political polarisation
Lybecker, D.L.; McBeth, M.K.; Kusko, E.
“Recycling is an increasingly important tool in global and national efforts for sustainability. Yet, particularly in the United States, there remains disconnect between those who view recycling as a necessity and those who see it as a waste: many conservatives do not support recycling activities, while many liberals do. However, recycling can be framed in language that draws support from both conservatives and liberals. Data from a survey sample of 429 individuals shows that conservative frames of recycling are supported by both conservatives and liberals, whereas liberal frames are supported only by liberals. Similarly ‘duty-based’ citizenship frames are supported by both duty-based and engaged citizens, while ‘engaged’ citizenship frames are supported mainly by engaged citizens. The implications for researchers, educators, administrators, and others involved in recycling are detailed”
Environment and Planning B (Vol. 12, issue 12)
Air pollution and human health in Greater Manchester
Wood, C.; Lawrence, M.
“ The background to air pollution control in Manchester and the resultingfalling pollution concentrations and consequent damage to health are described, and an analysis is made of the statistical relationships between mortality and air pollution in Greater Manchester. Other work has always showsn significant relationships between smoke and sulphur dioxide concentrations [above World Health Organisation (WHO) goals] and mortality from pollution-related diseases. Social factors (for example, overcrowding, owner-occupation) have often been found to be weakly related to mortality. This research reports no significant correlations between mortality and current smoke concentrations (which have mostly fallen below the WHO goal), weak correlations with sulphur dioxide levels, and fairly strong correlations with a number of social factors. The WHO goal therefore appears appropriate for smoke, and the results (including estimates of excess deaths) indicate that sulphur dioxide levels need to be reduced further. Social parameters are thought to be acting as proxies for causal factors (for example, smoking, diet).”
Environment and Planning C (Vol. 31, issue 1)
Environmental management systems and the third sector: exploring weak adoption in the UK
Edwards, R.; Smith, G., Buchs, M.
“The environment has become an increasingly prominent consideration across the third sector in the UK. However, while there has been an ‘audit explosion’ in relation to demonstrating the social mission of third sector organisations (TSOs), this has not transferred to the management of environmental impacts. This paper offers the first assessment of the development and adoption of environmental management systems (EMSs) across the third sector. Through a comparison with the experience of the private sector, analysis of key documents, interviews with third sector and government actors, and case studies of TSOs that have applied and/or adapted EMSs, the paper provides evidence of a relatively low level of innovation in this area. The paper concludes with reflections on the tensions associated with the future development of EMSs across the third sector, in particular the ambiguous role of government policy”
Environment and Urbanisation (Vol. 24, issue 2)
From practice to theory: emerging lessons from Asia for building urban climate change resilience
Brown, A.; Dayal, A.; Del Rio, C.R.
“This paper aims to capture and analyze emerging experiences, lessons and tensions evident from several years of work underway through the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, a network of secondary cities in South and Southeast Asia that have engaged in a process to analyze vulnerabilities and plan and implement measures to address them. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and numerous partners, these cities have identified more than 59 specific resilience-building measures, of which 23 are being implemented. Through this work we see 10 critical urban climate change resilience action areas that cities must consider in order to strengthen their ability to anticipate, prepare for and respond to the types of sudden and slow onset impacts. These are: climate sensitive land use and urban planning; institutional coordination mechanisms and capacity support; drainage, flood and solid waste management; water demand and conservation systems; emergency management and early warning systems; responsive health systems; resilient housing and transport systems; strengthening of ecosystem services; diversification and protection of climate-affected livelihoods; and education and capacity building of citizens. We present case studies of how these measures are implemented in specific cities and highlight the tensions and challenges that have emerged. Primary tensions arise around the powerful political economy forces that influence decisions in cities; ensuring that the risks and benefits of resilience-building measures are distributed equitably; aligning incentives of various stakeholders in cities; and developing the mandates, coordination and capacities needed to manage a multi-scale and multi-sector issue as complex as urban climate change resilience. This empirical base of practice provides important learning to help guide further the refinement of both theory and practice in the nascent field of urban climate change resilience”
European Planning Studies (Vol. 21, issue 4)
Dealing with sustainability trade-offs of the compact city in peri-urban planning across European city regions
Westerink, J.; Haase, D.; Bauer, A.; Ravetz, J.; Jarrige, F.; Aalbers, C.B.E.M
“The compact city has become a leading concept in the planning of peri-urban areas. The compact city concept is often advocated as “sustainable” because of claims that include lower emissions and conservation of the countryside. The literature shows, however, that there are certain trade-offs in striving for compaction, especially between environmental and social aspects of sustainability. In this article, we describe expressions of the compact city concept in the planning practice of several European urban sample regions, as well as policies and developments that contradict the compact city. We look at examples of positive and negative impacts of the compact city that were observed in the sample regions. Further, we discuss attempts by planners to deal with sustainability trade-offs. Being aware that developments in the peri-urban areas are closely connected to those in the inner city, we compare the sample regions in order to learn how the compact city concept has been used in planning peri-urban areas across different contexts in Europe: in Western, Central and Mediterranean Europe, and with growing, stable or declining populations. We conclude with recommendations with respect to balance in applying the compact city concept.”
Global Environmental Change (Vol. 23, issue 3)
Fossil fuel addiction and the implications for climate change policy
“This paper applies a behavioral economics model of cigarette addiction to the issue of fossil fuel usage and climate change. Both problems involve consumption of a currently beneficial product that causes detrimental effects in the distant future and for which current reductions in usage induces an adjustment cost. The paper argues that because fossil fuel control requires solving an international public goods problem as well as an addiction-like problem, breaking it will be more challenging. Using insights from the model, it also suggests that fossil fuel addiction, like cigarette addiction, may generate a long period of time in which people express sincere desire to convert to clean energy, but accomplish little to achieve that outcome. Finally the paper examines the history of the international anti-smoking campaign to draw insights for the campaign against global climate change. The analogy suggests that policies to reduce the present cost of non-carbon energy sources to induce voluntary adjustments in energy usage, or, policies that induce cleaner usage of fossil fuels, or geo-engineering policies that work to reverse the warming effects of higher CO2 concentrations, may be more viable than policies that raise the cost of current fossil fuel consumption.”
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (Vol. 4, issue 1)
A roadmap for carbon capture and storage in the UK
Gough, C.; Mander, S.; Haszeldine, S.
“Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology has been endorsed by the IPCC and the UK government as a key mitigation option but remains on the cusp of wide-scale commercial deployment. Here we present a technology roadmap for CCS, depicted in terms of external factors and short- and long-term pathways for its development, moving from a demonstration to commercialisation era. The roadmap was been developed through a two-phase process of stakeholder engagement; the second phase of this, a high level stakeholder workshop, is documented here. This approach has provided a unique overview of the current status, potential and barriers to CCS deployment in the UK. In addition to the roadmap graphics and more detailed review, five consensus conclusions emerging from the workshop are presented. These describe the need for a monetary CO2 value and the financing of carbon capture and storage schemes; the lack of technical barriers to the deployment of demonstration scale CCS plant; the role of demonstration projects in developing a robust regulatory framework; key storage issues; the need for a long-term vision in furthering both the technical and non-technical development of CCS”
Journal of Industrial Ecology (Vol. 16, issue 2)
Uncertainty and variability in product carbon footprinting
“Recent years have seen increasing interest in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions accounting, also known as carbon footprinting, due to drivers such as transportation fuels policy and climate-related eco-labels, sometimes called carbon labels. However, it remains unclear whether applications of greenhouse gas accounting, such as carbon labels, are supportable given the level of precision that is possible with current methodology and data. The goal of this work is to further the understanding of quantitative uncertainty assessment in carbon footprinting through a case study of a rackmount electronic server. Production phase uncertainty was found to be moderate (±15%), though with a high likelihood of being significantly underestimated given the limitations in available data for assessing uncertainty associated with temporal variability and technological specificity. Individual components or subassemblies showed varying levels of uncertainty due to differences in parameter uncertainty (i.e., agreement between data sets) and variability between production or use regions. The use phase displayed a considerably higher uncertainty (±50%) than production due to uncertainty in the useful lifetime of the server, variability in electricity mixes in different market regions, and use profile uncertainty. Overall model uncertainty was found to be ±35% for the whole life cycle, a substantial amount given that the method is already being used to set policy and make comparative environmental product declarations. Future work should continue to combine the increasing volume of available data to ensure consistency and maximize the credibility of the methods of life cycle assessment (LCA) and carbon footprinting. However, for some energy-using products it may make more sense to increase focus on energy efficiency and use phase emissions reductions rather than attempting to quantify and reduce the uncertainty of the relatively small production phase”
Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability (Vol. 18, issue 4)
Community knowledge networks: an action-oriented approach to energy research
Cartney, P.; Dobson, A.; Hall, S.M.; Hards, S; MacGregor, S.; Robinson, Z.; Ormerod, M.; Ross, S.
“The Climate Change Act 2008 commits the UK to reducing carbon emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. With household emissions constituting more than a quarter of current total energy use in the UK, energy practices in the home have taken on increased policy attention. In this paper, we argue that the UK government’s approach is founded upon a variant of methodological individualism that assumes that providing greater energy information to individuals will effect behaviour change in relation to energy use. Such an approach is potentially limited in its effectiveness and does not afford appropriate recognition to all those affected by energy policy. In contrast to this approach, we set out an alternative perspective, a community knowledge networks approach to energy and justice which recognises the contexts and relationships in which people live and use energy. Such an approach emphasises situated knowledge and practices in order to gain a greater understanding of how individuals and communities use energy, but, importantly, offers a means for affording greater recognitional justice to different social groups”
Progress in Human Geography (Vol. 37, issue 2)
The necessity of multiscalar analysis of climate justice
“This article suggests that a multiscalar and interdisciplinary construct is required to analyse climate justice as an appraisal of the distribution of climate finance for adaptation. The analysis of climate justice necessitates a determination of whether the inter- and intrastate distribution and ultimate effectiveness of climate finance for adaptation is realized across and between scales. This article finds current approaches to climate justice lacking in empirical research that can incorporate multiple scales. Using climate finance for adaptation projects as a proxy, the article applies theoretical frameworks from Geography and Political Science to realize climate justice as an accumulative top-down process”
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (Vol. 37, issue 2)
Managing trade-offs in ‘ecotopia’: becoming green at the Centre for Alternative Technology
“The individual has been cast as both the source of and solution to many contemporary environmental problems. Although some individuals may display concern for the environment, actions are undertaken within a societal context that is often ambivalent to environmental issues. To ‘become green’, therefore, individuals have to negotiate a range of trade-offs between their environmental aspirations and the realities of life in a developed, consumer-based society. This paper draws on extensive field work at one site at which individuals have explicitly sought to manage these trade-offs – the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales, UK. It argues that two distinct strategies are adopted to manage the tensions involved in becoming green: a ‘strategy of segregation’– where professional practices are separated from personal actions to establish balance, if not consistency, in everyday life; and a ‘strategy of alignment’– where (unsuccessful) attempts are made to unify personal and professional practices in line with environmental ideals. This paper outlines how the inability of these strategies to fully reconcile the tensions involved in becoming green has led to a ‘politics of pragmatism’ within environmental practice. It argues that this politics offers a way forward for contemporary environmentalism, both within ‘ecotopian’ spaces such as the Centre for Alternative Technology, but also in more mainstream spaces where the majority live their lives”