The neoliberalisation of climate? Progressing climate policy under austerity urbanism

North, PJ ORCID: 0000-0001-5147-7296, Nurse, A ORCID: 0000-0003-0325-4420 and Barker, T
(2017) The neoliberalisation of climate? Progressing climate policy under austerity urbanism. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 49 (08). pp. 1797-1815.

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While the urban is identified as a productive site for addressing climate change, the ‘post-political’ critique dismisses climate policy as a vacuous discourse that obscures power relations and exclusion, defends the established neoliberal order, and silences challenges. This paper argues that rather than consensus, there is a conflict between urban climate policy and the need to reignite economic growth in the context of austerity urbanism, but also that we should not assume that challenges to neoliberal understandings of the ‘sensible’ will always be disregarded. Rather, urban climate policy can be progressed through partnership processes utilising ‘co-production’ techniques which entail significant agonistic, if not antagonistic, contestation. The argument is illustrated with a case study of climate policy making in the context of austerity urbanism in Liverpool, UK. While ‘low carbon’ is conceptualised by elite actors in Liverpool in neoliberal terms as a source of new low carbon jobs and businesses, with an emphasis on energy security and fuel poverty, this view is not unchallenged. The paper recounts how an ad hoc group of actors in the city came together to form a partnership advocating for more strategic decarbonisation, which should be progressed through a bid for the city to be European Green Capital. The disputes that emerged around this agenda suggest that in the context of austerity urbanism the need for cities to act to mitigate against dangerous climate change is not as uncontested as conceptions of the post-political suggest.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate change, low carbon transitions, partnership processes, the post-political condition, urban policy processes
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2016 11:39
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:24
DOI: 10.1177/0308518X16686353
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