Michael Hodson* - SURF Centre
Simon Marvin - SURF Centre
This paper addresses an issue of increasing contemporary salience: the role of large cities in addressing climate change. Cities perform a central role in the production of greenhouse gas emissions, are highly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and can potentially provide a key context for addressing climate change. Yet there has been limited critical and thematic reflection on the emerging and active role of cities in undertaking socio-technical transitions to low carbon futures. Consequently we argue that large cities are sites for the reactive interpretation of international climate change initiatives and are actively seeking to cultivate systemic transitions within the socio-technologies of the city to low carbon futures. But central to this shift is a need to more critically understand how large cities are actively engaged in creating new political spaces to fulfil their aspirations. We therefore analyse the "Large Cities Climate Leadership Group" and the "Clinton Climate Change Initiative" to highlight the ways in which large cities are seeking to 'co-operate' with each other and with corporate interests to translate their aspirations into actuality and the tensions and trade-offs this exposes. We highlight three themes: (1) the building of partnerships of large cities and their underpinnings; (2) the negotiated and collective aspirations emerging from these partnerships; and (3) an explicit strategy of national-level 'by-pass' in building (horizontal) relationships (with other cities and corporate capital) in generating the necessary resources to translate the aspirations of cities into actuality.