The Emergence and Governance of Climate Urbanism?

A new book focusing on developing research agenda for climate urbanism is out. UEP group leader Sirkku Juhola contributed with a chapter focusing on city governance.

How do we govern cities in the age of climate urbanism is a question that Sirkku Juhola asks in a recently published volume, edited by Vanesa Castán Broto, Enora Robin and Aidan While. The collection titled Climate Urbanism. Towards a Critical Research Agenda, published by Palgrave MacMillan brings together an exciting collection of chapters which explore the relationship between cities and climate change.

The chapters explore the need to rethink and reorient urban life in response to climate change, and what climate urbanism is, how its transformative potential can be used to address current injustices and engage non-state actors in transformative action. The volume is a timely collection that illustrates the opportunities and tensions embedded in urban environmental policy. Sirkku’s chapter focuses on the issue of governance in particular and puts forward three propositions to understand how the governance of cities is changing in this context.

First, there is certainly evidence of institutionalisation of climate policy objectives across and into urban governance structures and frameworks with the aim of both mitigating and adapting to climate change across all policy areas. However, many studies have focused on front-runner cities. The empirical challenge of gathering data to show how widespread this is globally is a remaining challenge. It is also not clear how rapid the inclusion of multiple actors in governance is with some studies indicating that this may only be anecdotal.

Second, Sirkku argues that while there are plenty of climate related strategies developed in cities, the extent these measures are actually implemented on the ground is doubtful. To what extent they influence changes in the urban form or social life of the city? Overall, there is a significant gap in knowledge in terms of implementation of climate policy over time. Externally funded projects feature heavily in pushing climate policy towards implementation. However, do these all remain after initial project implementation and become part of effective governance strategy and management?

Finally, it is also worth questioning whether climate policy is really the driving force in urban development. Much of urban scholarship that focuses on climate policy may not have a wider perspective needed to analyse to what extent other policy issues override climate concerns. Existing studies have shown moderate levels of integration, and it would be important to see how these other policy fields that often drive emissions and vulnerability to climate hazards interact with climate policy.

The order the book, please see here.