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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Urban Transitions: climate change, global cities and the transformation of socio-technical systems

Cities are critical sites for responding to climate change. With over half the world’s population, cities are large sources of emissions of greenhouse gases and are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Urban infrastructure systems – such as utilities and housing – have a critical role in both reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and in enhancing resilience to potential impacts from climate change. These systems are socio-technical: they include technical components, such as the technologies which generate energy (eg solar panels on a roof), and social components, the institutions which guide the development of these technologies (eg planning laws) and the behaviours through which energy demand is produced (eg using hot water).

To date, we know very little about how these urban socio-technical systems are responding to climate change. The Fellowship will focus on the question of How could rapid transformation of complex socio-technical systems be managed and achieved?. Based on new empirical research in up to five global cities, the project will consider how climate change innovations are being shaped, how responsibilities for addressing climate change are being allocated, and how issues of socio-environmental justice enable and constrain the possibilities for rapid urban transitions in response to climate change.

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Author: Vanesa Castan Broto Date: 10 September 2009 Newsletter