Urban Areas and Global Climate Change: Volume 12


Table of contents

(20 chapters)

On the eve of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development's (UNCSD) conference on sustainable development (Rio+20) in June 2012, the United Nation's Environmental Program (UNEP)'s Global Outlook Report (GEO-5) provided sobering data on global environmental progress. The report indicated that world nations are making little headway on significant environmental targets set for themselves under the Millennium Development Goals. The UN indicated that world nations made progress on only 4 of the 90 most significant objectives from the Millennium Plan: reducing substances depleting the ozone layer, removing lead from fuel, increasing access to water supplies, and increasing research on ways to reduce pollution in marine environments. However, in some cases no progress or regression occurred in reaching goals on climate change issues including limiting increases in average global temperatures to less than two degrees above preindustrial levels nor advances in issues such as revitalization of depleted fish stocks, protection of biodiversity, and combating desertification (UNEP, 2012).

Purpose – The aim of this chapter is to review the relationship of urban climate governance against the background of sustainability and to identify driving forces in a set of leading cities in the United States and Europe.

Design/methodology/approach – Case-study research indicates that efficient, creative and participatory urban governance is key for the quest for sustainability. It is theorized that dynamic governance is composed of high levels of both institutional and social capital or capacity. Each capacity category is composed of different indicators or ‘success factors’ taken from qualitative data in overall 84 cities in the United States and Europe. By triangulating desktop research, mail surveys and review of existing studies, the role and influence of these success factors is evaluated and compared.

Findings – In both the United States and in Europe, the key driving forces are those related to institutional capacity. Yet, cities tend to be more successful in sustainable development if levels of institutional and social capacity are high. Linkages between institutional and social dimensions can be successfully strengthened by capacity building measures.

Research limitations/implications – As the comparison is based on existing studies on leading cities in sustainability, driving factors likely to play a stronger role in the early phase of urban sustainability measures are underrepresented.

Practical implications – Local authorities are advised to encourage social capacities in order to help them pursue local sustainability over time.

Originality/value – This chapter compares and evaluates underlying success factors going beyond a case-study approach across the Atlantic in order to draw broader conclusions.

Purpose – To combine insights from urban and environmental sociology to examine local drivers of carbon emissions in the United States, with particular focus on demographic, economic, and consumptive dynamics.

Design/methodology/approach – Apply spatial regression analysis to a novel county-level data set to test hypotheses about how different conditions and activities relate independently and positively to total carbon emissions at the local level.

Findings – Results provide strong support for theoretically derived hypotheses, even after controlling for other factors, including spatial autocorrelation. The implication is that within a social system that treats land as a commodity, efforts to increase the exchange value of this commodity tend to drive up local carbon emissions, thereby contributing to global climate change.

Originality/value – Complements previous sociological work on greenhouse gas emissions at the national level. Shows how local processes in general and urbanization in particular contribute to global climate change at and from the local areas where they occur.

Purpose – Adapting local areas to climate change is a wicked challenge for local administrations. A participatory research is applied to explore how local experience shared by local experts can inform decision and adaptation planning by taking into account local area characteristics and their interrelationships.

Methodology/approach – We turned to local actors, who live or work in the city and who can be seen as urban experts. Their experiential knowledge has given us a better understanding of the characteristics of their communities. These experts are likely to possess a representation that reflects the local territorial sensitivities, which can help us determine how these characteristics might be impacted by climate change.

Findings – A participatory approach bears many benefits such as mobilizing local stakeholders to find collective solutions. It also allows us to focus on common practices in the urban context, which are likely to be altered by changes in mean temperatures, precipitations, etc. It offers the additional benefit of putting into perspective the relations between a variety of urban issues.

Research limitations – A participatory approach means relying on subjective assessments of the possible effects of climate change, which could challenge the relevance of perceived risks and the scope and types of actions taken.

Originality/value of paper – The number of the available adaptation planning processes involving community stakeholders and assessments of these processes is very limited. A participatory process such as the cross-sectoral initiative organized in Québec City can have significant repercussions on local engagement in climate change adaptation. This provides evidence of the potential of deliberation or interaction of territorial actors to improve their understanding of the issues and their adaptive capacity. On a methodological level, the participatory process in itself and the steps to organize it offered a planning frame that can be reproduced.

Purpose – Many cities have taken action in order to reduce their carbon footprints. Moreover, the European city has historically been the home of democratic institutions, which have proven to be crucial for successful policy. The leading question of this chapter is whether or not this traditional link between democracy and active citizen participation also holds with respect to local climate policy.

Design/methodology/approach – In our chapter, we take a comparative look at two cities – Muenster in Rhineland Westphalia and Potsdam, the capital of Brandenburg next to Berlin. We have a look at the track records of both cities’ carbon footprint and analyze the role of civil society in local climate policy. We develop a set of qualitative indicators, measuring local climate policy outcomes on the one hand and local climate policy performance on the other. We base our analysis on documents and on stakeholder interviews in both cities.

Findings – The findings show that Muenster has performed better in urban climate protection than Potsdam. Also the level of civil society engagement is higher in Muenster. Thus, the hypothesis that cities with a higher level of civil society engagement also perform better in urban climate policy can be confirmed. However, Muenster performs just slightly better than Potsdam. Both cities have failed to meet their climate goals. A closer look to the local climate policy performance leads us to the final conclusion that cities should be more active in supporting and including citizens in their local climate policies in all areas of life – including lifestyle politics and political consumerism.

Purpose – This chapter shows the politics, plans, strategies, initiatives Municipality of Milan is putting in place, in the European Union context, in order to reduce its green gas emissions and to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

Design/methodology/approach – The study was conducted on the basis of primary and secondary sources, in particular the analysis of municipal official documents.

Findings – The city of Milan structured its strategy against climate change in two branches: on one hand Milan takes part of national and international networks, on the other hand it acts at local level through the adoption of an ad hoc plan (called ‘Piano Clima’).

Originality/value – Among other things, this study shows the relevance of cooperation with different and similar urban areas. In fact, in order – both – to plan and to implement the most part of its initiatives against climate change, the contacts, exchanges, relations with other cities have been and will be of vital relevance for the city of Milan. From the experiences of peers, you can learn, for example, what measures are most effective, what measures are the easiest to implement and most accepted by citizens, how to implement measures.

Purpose – Emissions trading is often heralded as an efficient approach to environmental regulation. In the mid-90s Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization, raised concerns that emissions trading in the South Coast Air Basin, the most polluted region in Southern California, would result in environmental injustice. The organizations concerns received mixed responses from regulators. Historical analysis is used to assess the clash between emissions trading and environmental justice (EJ).

Methodology/approach – Emissions trading and EJ arose side by side between the 1960s and the 1990s, yet they disagree on how to clean the air. Historical analysis of legal documents, presidential addresses, letters, working papers, reports, and the like offers a better understanding of the development of emissions trading and EJ, and their intersection in environmental policy.

Findings – Emissions trading was grafted onto Clean Air Act policies not inherently designed for their incorporation. As a result, emissions trading came into direct philosophical opposition with EJ as political pressures calling for both economically efficient antiregulatory-ism and environmental equity forced their intersection. Formally, regional and national government accepted EJ as part of law. However, in principle, emissions trading undermined this acceptance. As a result, CBE could not easily win or explicitly lose its battle against emissions trading.

Originality/value of paper – Previous work on the relationship between emissions trading and EJ tend to focus on legal analysis and normative implications of emissions trading. Putting emissions trading and environment justice into historical perspective helps to illuminate larger questions about EJ activism and policy. Also, as California, the United States, and Europe turn to emissions trading to combat not only air pollution but also climate change, important lessons can be learned from the histories and collision of emissions trading and EJ.

Purpose – This work offers an investigation of the planning and implementation of climate-adaptation and vulnerability-reduction strategies in coastal mega-cities of the Global South, utilizing Kolkata, India, as a case study. This research is designed to identify factors that aid the implementation of climate-centered action in resource-constrained environments of developing countries and provide a set of policy guidelines reflecting best practices.

Methodology/approach – This work draws principally upon analysis of semistructured field interviews conducted in Kolkata, India, during December 2010 and January 2011. The findings are informed by additional data sources as well, including field observations, informal dialogues and meetings, and a review of secondary literature.

Findings – This work identifies several key success factors, including organizational restructuring, resource redistribution, technological innovation, use of external consultants, coupling of climate and development projects, and integration of climate approaches into infrastructure projects.

Research limitations – This research draws upon Kolkata as a case study; thus the work's broader applicability and utility depend on the similarities between the situation in Kolkata and that of other urban areas. As a local study, this work may also offer fewer insights for regional and national policy.

Originality and value – This work fills a timely, unmet need for a greater understanding of climate-adaptation action in the context of cities of the developing world. The extensive use of personal interviews provides unique insights into the minds of planning officials and professionals and draws upon their practical experience to draw lessons for a wide range of similar environments.

Purpose – Adaptation to climate change requires that the population at risk and decision makers in various sectors become aware of the possible detrimental impacts in order to take whatever action is needed, especially in highly vulnerable countries and regions. In order to assess the climate change and impact awareness in a particularly vulnerable area – the Indian city Hyderabad, located within a semiarid region – we wanted to learn more about the local climate discourse, in particular the daily newspaper coverage of climate change and weather extremes.

Methodology/approach – After having looked at the Indian climate change discourse (CCD) in general, based on literature review, we were studying the local public CCD, based on the in-depth analysis of two English language daily newspapers, and three Telugu (the dominant local language) daily newspapers, covering the period of 2008–2009. This qualitative and quantitative analysis was completed by two expert interviews with local journalists.

Findings – We find that the more recent Indian CCD has shifted if compared to the dominant argumentation pattern of the period before, as reported in other analyses. While the former discourse was characterized by the scheme “the poor/developing countries suffer from anthropogenic climate change caused by the industrialized countries,” the recent Indian CCD has become more differentiated, taking into account both impacts elsewhere, and, most notably, conceding a (limited) responsibility of countries like India. On a local level, while reports on weather extremes are very common, we find that local newspapers of Hyderabad do not provide a link between these extreme events and (global) climate change.

Research limitations – Our discourse analysis could only cover a short time period of a local CCD, leaving open the questions of (a) its further development, and (b) how things might stand in other places in India. Furthermore it would be necessary to complement our study by analyses of the impact of mass media reporting on people's attitudes and behavior.

Originality/value of paper – Given the importance of public participation in adaptation measures, it is crucial to know if and how the wider public and the majority of the nonexpert public administration (which needs to be involved) understands the causes, potential impacts, and possible adaptive action in the face of climate change. This chapter provides a necessary (though not sufficient) element for that assessment. The findings can help to identify weaknesses, and thus to give hints how to improve the adaptive capacity in places like Hyderabad (India).

Purpose – The net increase in China's urban population in the last 50 years equals the current total population of the European Union. The scale and speed of urbanization in China requires a sustainable solution to unprecedented energy demands and elevated carbon emissions. As low-carbon development emerges in urban China, it offers a unique vantage point to examine some fundamental theoretical questions of the environmental state. How do structural socioeconomic changes affect the environmental state? Does the rise of the environmental state offer a basis for regulatory reform on a broader scale?

Methodology/approach – Case study of five low-carbon cities in China provides the empirical evidence for the analysis. The five cities represent a continuum in their levels of postindustrialization. I compare low-carbon development strategies in postindustrial cities with those strategies in industrial cities. Evidence is collected primarily by way of interviews with planning bureau officials, urban design professionals, involved NGOs, academics, and private sector individuals familiar with the matter.

Findings – First, in cities where the level of postindustrialization is high, state resources support innovative low-carbon development strategies that attempt to achieve emission reductions in a variety of sectors. In industrial cities, however, the environmental state's regulative power is limited to one or two (sub)sectors. Second, and more importantly, a new pattern of governance is emerging in postindustrial cities. Low-carbon development in postindustrial cities is a much less centralized process, having local levels of governments as key players of low-carbon policy making. When the environmental state intersects with the postindustrial city, it gives birth to a new urbanism that has profound implications for political structuring in China.

Research limitations – The analysis in this chapter is based on evidence from a purposefully selected set of Chinese cities, which may render the results biased. Future studies should aim for a more systematic analysis of cities in order to establish more generalizable conclusions. In addition, given the increasing availability of quantitative data at the city level in China, future studies should also seek to incorporate quantitative analyses to better substantiate existing knowledge derived from qualitative sources of evidence.

Originality/value of chapter – First, this chapter challenges the Western bias in the existing literature on the environmental state. The role of the civil society is far from salient in the Chinese context, and yet the environmental state demonstrates a robust level of activity despite the weak civil society. It therefore seems that a general theory of the environmental state can be built from existing literature, but needs to be sensitive to non-Western social conditions that might falsify parts of the theoretical claims. Second, the environmental state literature can be consolidated and further developed when examined in conjunction with other literatures in the modernity tradition. I have demonstrated the connection between the environmental state and the postindustrial city. More studies are needed to examine other facets of the environmental state, as it intersects with a multitude of (post)modern conditions.

Purpose – The vulnerability and adaptive capacities of cities in Latin America have received relatively less attention compared to other regions of the world. This chapter seeks to address these gaps by (a) examining vulnerability to the health impacts from air pollution and temperature, and exploring whether socioeconomic factors between neighborhoods differentiate these risks within the cities of Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Santiago and (b) assessing the capacity of urban populations to perceive and respond to vulnerability and risk.

Design/methodology/approach – Because of the complex nature of vulnerability, we combined a set of quantitative and quantitative methods and data to determine whether and under what conditions the people in these cities are vulnerable (e.g., Time Series Analysis, Generalized Linear Model, and statistical correlations of exposure and human mortality with socioeconomic vulnerability).

Findings – We found high levels of PM10, ozone, and other criteria air pollutants in three cities for which we had data. However, the pattern of their impacts on health depends on the particulars of pollutant levels and atmospheric and weather conditions of each city. Our results reflect the varied facets of urban vulnerability and shed light on the nature of the associated human health risks. Although wealthy populations have access to education, good quality housing, and health services to mitigate some environmental risks, overall the data show that health impacts from air pollution and temperature in the study cities do not necessarily depend on socioeconomic differentiations.

Research limitations/implications – Although we sought to use quantitative and qualitative methods, given the complexity of the research, it has proven difficult to fully explore these issues across scales and with a full accounting of local context.

Practical implications – Our findings show that wealthy and educated populations may be equally at risk to the health implications of air pollution. Policies designed to mitigate these risks should not use socioeconomic characteristics as predictors of a population's risk in relation to air pollution.

Originality/value – This research contributes valuable insights into the dynamics of vulnerability to air pollution in Latin American cities, a region that has been historically underrepresented in empirical studies of urban risk. We have also combined a range of methods and approaches to improve our understanding of the multifaceted nature of urban vulnerability to global environmental change.

Purpose – Flooding has become a recurring phenomenal in most cities in Nigeria. The 26 August 2011 flooding disaster which occurred in Ibadan is only an indication of magnitude of flooding problem in Nigerian cities. This chapter examines the impacts, vulnerability factors and disaster risk management framework in Ibadan metropolis.

Methodology/Approach – The survey design was used for the study and covers eleven local government areas (LGAs) affected by the flood. The study utilized both primary and secondary data. The primary data were obtained by physical observation and in-depth interview of affected households. In-depth interview was also carried out with key officials of State Ministry of Environment and Housing. The study also relies on the data from the Oyo State Government Task Force on Flood Prevention and Management report.

Findings – The chapter shows that the 26 August 2011 flood disaster in Ibadan metropolis caused monumental destructions in the city. The continuous construction on flood plains, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, excessive rainfall and deforestation were identified as the main vulnerability factors. The chapter shows that there is no adequate framework for disaster risk management in the city.

Research limitations – About 250 affected households in 11 LGAs were interviewed for the study due to time and budget constraints. This figure is considered meagre considering the number of affected households by the flood disaster. However, the random selection of affected households and key government officials helped to address this limitation.

Originality/value of chapter – The simultaneous identification of impacts, vulnerability factors and disaster risk management framework in the city provides an opportunity for the development of a holistic and proactive disaster risk management strategy in Ibadan metropolis.

Purpose – Scientific studies have shown that the coastal zone is one of the regions showing great vulnerability to the impacts of global environmental change. For the region, impacts that may directly affect the economy and daily life of the communities of coastal municipalities were predicted. It occurs from phenomena, e.g. temperature rise, sea level rise, salinity, acidification of the seas and extreme events.

Methodology/approach – The mariculture labourers and artisan fishers from the Cocanha beach (Caraguatatuba city, north coast of the state of São Paulo), a lookout group, are the first persons to perceive the environmental change impacts in their daily contact with natural resources. Thus, the aim herein was to (a) verify their perception on the amount and quality of mussels and fish catch and (b) if such changes could be related to global environmental changes. In order to do so, semi-structured interviews with this social group were conducted in November 2009–February 2011 and codified by using the NVIVO8 software.

Findings – The results indicated a decrease in fish stocks and, according to interviewees, such decrease was tied in with changes in fishing, in climate, and in beach landscape. Moreover, the category related to increased water temperature was highly significant, since the fishing and mariculture activities are directly influenced by this factor.

Research limitations – The perception evaluation through interviews with artisanal fishermen and shellfishermen implies that many subjective aspects are present, as well as the role of the media that has published significant information on climate change in the contemporary world.

Originality/value of paper – There are few studies that present these perspectives; however, the authors believe that it is possible, while recognising the possible limitations of the method, to recognise something that is already perceived by the community and may help to evaluate the reality they face and to contribute actually to the construction of future public policies.

Purpose – Many cities are located in coastal areas and many of them are identified as prone to climate change impacts, especially sea level rise and floods. Master plans of cities can feature responses to these challenges, as in the case of Jakarta's master plan 2010–2030. However, as this chapter will argue, the top-down nature of planning would likely produce, reproduce, or reaffirm unjust urban geographies in the name of climate change adaptation. North Jakarta and its coastal area, which were prone to climate change risks, has been home for more than 40,000 poor households, most of which live in houses less than 50m2 in informal settlements with lack of basic needs infrastructures. This chapter addresses the question, “How are poor communities in the north coast of Jakarta affected by extreme weather events, and how are their everyday experiences addressed in master plan Jakarta 2010–2030?”

Methodology/approach – Analysis is based on community profiles, census information, and a workshop with representatives of these communities. This chapter will also analyze relevant parts of Jakarta's 2010–2030 master plan. The discussion covers the following: (1) the making of place-based communities of the urban poor in the north coast of Jakarta compared to the master plan, and (2) the impact of climate change on the urban poor's livelihoods in the north coast.

Findings – The current master plan 2010–2030 features plans to mitigate climate change and environmental risks for the coastal area, especially sea level rise, land subsidence, and pollution. The study reveals that North Jakarta communities were unaware of what the city planners have drafted, but most of them realized climate challenges based on their everyday experience. They aspired to be involved in the planning process, but their informal status hampered their opportunity to be heard.

Originality/value of chapter – Rather than looking at how Jakarta as a city is affected by climate change, this chapter focuses on specific communities in North Jakarta that are prone to climate change-induced risks. Climate change impacts are spatially unequal, and even in the same region that theoretically bears the same risks, the impact distribution of climate change can be unequal for different social groups. The chapter also questions the ability of urban planning to respond to these challenges when planning practice itself has not yet taken into account citizens’ social awareness and participation meaningfully.

Purpose – The chapter explores the gender dimensions of climatic impacts in urban areas and draws lessons for cities in Africa.

Methodology – The data presented was generated through focus group discussions with female and male residents of Kasubi-Kawaala neighborhood in Kampala city as well as extensive review of relevant literature.

Findings – Climatic impacts in Kasubi-Kawaala and Kampala city at large, mainly include prolonged dry spells, erratic heavy rains, and seasonal floods, which destroy physical infrastructure, expose households to environmental health hazards, contaminate air and water sources, and lead to unprecedented spread of cholera and malaria. These climatic impacts on one hand do worsen gender inequalities across different urban sectors, while on the other such gender inequalities contribute to the intensity of climatic impacts. These are the gender dimensions of climatic impacts in urban areas that require deep examination while planning to adapt or reduce emissions.

Research limitation – The methods used to collect data were qualitative in nature and therefore no statistical data was obtained on gender inequalities and climatic impacts. But the review of different literature did enable the study gain relevant descriptive statistics on the effects of climatic change in Kampala city.

Value of the chapter – There have been studies on gender and climate change in Africa, but many of these have focused on rural settings and women in particular. This chapter provides a relational understanding on women's interface relative to men's interface with climatic impacts in Kampala with the aim of drawing lessons that can be applied to local circumstances in different African cities.

Publication date
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Research in Urban Sociology
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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