Seminar – The Role of Cities in Transitions towards Low-Carbon Mobility

May 23, 2017 15.00 h - 17.00 h

On 23 May 2017, Tim Schwanen (Associate Professor of Transport Studies and Director of the Transport Studies Unit School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, and one of the leading and most cited transport geographers worldwide) visits Delft, and will give a presentation on The Role of Cities in Transitions towards Low-Carbon Mobility’.

Programme seminar
Chairman: Prof. Bert van Wee

15:00               Opening, welcome
15:05 – 15:45  Presentation Dr. Tim Schwanen (University of Oxford)
15:45 – 16:00  Reaction Prof. Luca Bertolini (UvA)
15:45 – 17:00  Discussion
17:00               Drinks

Location: TU Delft, CEG, Stevinweg 1, Delft

Room: 2.98

Participation is free, registration is required: click here.

Cities are widely seen as the places where innovations that can induce or reinforce a transition towards low-carbon mobility are developing, and success stories of cities experimenting with specific types of low-carbon mobility abound in the academic literature. In the seminar I will critically examine the role that cities and urban areas can play in three ways. Drawing on empirical research in various UK cities, I will first explore challenges and barriers complicating  the emergence and diffusion of low-carbon mobility innovations in individual cities. Particular emphasis will be placed on the importance of funding, political support and co-optation by neo-liberal, pro-growth agendas. I will secondly foreground the importance of looking beyond individual cities and considering urban networks and wider territorial formations as this helps to bring into focus some of the risks and less benign effects of low-carbon mobility innovations. I will finally direct attention to the specific and challenging circumstances for sustainable mobility transitions across cities across the Global South. Here the argument will be that problems not only consist of limited institutional capacity and rapid expansion of automobility in cities but extend to an over-reliance on seemingly universal but deeply western-specific discourses and expertise about how mobility can be made more sustainable. The overall conclusion will be that cities have an important role to play in low-carbon mobility transitions but that conventional conceptualisations and imaginings of the city limit our understanding of urban transition dynamics. The use of more advanced conceptualisations helps not only to bring out the ambiguity and complexity of those dynamics but also increases the prospects for greater social justice in transitions towards low-carbon mobility.



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