- Towards a green urban economy? Unravelling urban sustainability transitions from a regime perspective
- 3rd International Conference on Sustainability Transitions: Navigating theories and challenging realities
- Book/source title
- IST 2012 - Navigating theories and challenging realities. Track F: the role of the cities and regions in transitions
- Pages (from-to)
- Technical University of Denmark
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The current debate about sustainability transitions has embraced the multi-level perspective as a useful methodological tool for assessing the dynamics that are at play between landscape, regime and niche. As a consequence, the thinking about socio-technical transitions has gradually shifted in favour of an increasingly holistic view on innovation and societal change. In order to understand the complex interactions between what is considered a stable environment (landscape), the rules of the game (regime) and current innovative developments (niches), many scholars have used the national context in order to investigate regime-level developments. In response to this national focus, recent publications (for example Hodson & Marvin; Smith, Voss & Grin) called for a greater focus on the urban context, arguing that at a time urban dwellers make up 50% of the global population, the debate would have to put greater emphasis on sustainability transitions in the urban context, and to investigate whether and if so to what extent the multi-level perspective can be applied as an appropriate framework for analysis. This paper presents the findings from comparative research on the role of local governments in promoting renewable energy industry clusters in six cities with different national contexts: Germany, China, US, Canada Morocco and Brazil. It aims to address the following questions: what are the opportunities for city leaders to foster sustainable economic development through green growth? How ‘stable’ is the urban context from a regime point of view, and how influential is the interaction between such an urban regime and other levels of government (provincial, national) in the context of the renewable energy industry? Finally, can cluster initiatives in this business sector act as a catalyst for innovation and change? The paper concludes that municipalities employ different strategies when promoting the local renewable energy industry, and that these policy choices reflect the characteritsics of the urban regime, as defined by its sector-specific social, political and economic endowments.
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