Date and time
Convenors: Will Eadson (Sheffield Hallam University) and Laura Norris (Cardiff University)
Policy aimed towards sustainability transitions is beginning to have fundamental effects on how economic activity is organised across cities and regions. Growing calls in the wake of Covid-19 for a ‘green recovery’ heighten the possibilities for radical transformation of economies, albeit with a wide range of potential pathways, from radical degrowth to revamped low carbon capitalism. These changes are prompting reflection from scholars across the field of regional studies and economic geography. How might we better understand the different impacts (and possibilities) of a sustainable (or ‘green’) economy?
This seminar series will invite leading scholars from across these fields to present cutting edge theoretical and empirical work. Through stimulating discussion and debate about ways forward for understanding economic geographies of sustainability transitions, policy and academic communities can be brought together. The webinar series is run by the RSA’s Yorkshire and Humberside Branch and supported by the RSA. It is free and open to all and runs monthly from October to January 2021.
Spatial Divisions of Low Carbon Labour
Dr Aiden While, University of Sheffield, UK
Dr Will Eadson, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
In this presentation, Aidan While and Will Eadson set out a way of understanding low carbon transition as a process of economic restructuring, paying attention to the state’s role in mediating emergent ‘spatial divisions of low carbon labour’. Decarbonisation is set to be a powerful force of economic restructuring, creating new economic opportunities, but threatening jobs and investment in sectors unable to adjust to fossil fuel divestment. A pressing issue for ‘just transitions’ is whether low carbon economic restructuring is likely to challenge or reinforce prevailing geographies of spatial inequality and labour market (dis)advantage. The spatial divisions of labour approach foregrounds questions of employment, training and pathways to employment as key dimensions of just transition, providing a framework for analysis and intervention. Aidan and Will open up new critical perspectives on low carbon transitions, thinking about decarbonisation as a form of spatial economic restructuring and its potential implications in reinforcing and/or working against existing patterns of uneven spatial development.
State Mediation and Renewable Energy Geographies: On the Role of Regions in Energy Transitions
Carla De Laurentis, Cardiff University, UK
This talk will focus on the role of regions in implementing renewable energy policies, examining the relationship between state policy and renewable energy deployment. Using evidence from comparative case studies, two regions in Italy and two devolved territories in the UK, Carla will tease out some differences in terms of regional competencies to implement renewable energy policies across the two countries. While the regions investigated display differences in their incentives, capacities and capabilities to increase renewable energy deployment, their ability to act is very much influenced by nation-states, stressing the important role of the state in mediating the form and direction of renewable energy deployment. The paper highlights how the relationship between state policy and regional renewable deployment has been influenced by the intersection between state regulation and questions of energy policy and this has strong implications for the practice and outcome of territorial governance.
Rethinking the Concept of Innovation in City and Urban Sustainability Transitions
Speaker: Lars Coenen, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway
Innovation is a central concept in the bourgeoning literature on sustainability transitions and related analytical frameworks such as the Multi Level Perspective (MLP) and Technological Innovation Systems (TIS). Informed by research on sustainability transitions, the understanding of innovation has broadened considerably, taking it beyond its initial techno-economic paradigm. Also in policy-making, transition studies have become increasingly influential as innovation is used as a boundary object to cut across different policy domains. Directionality and ‘missions’ are nowadays part-and-parcel of innovation policies. Moreover, its generally positive connotation which overlooked social and environmental downsides has become increasingly questioned. There is now a growing interest and focus on ‘other’ forms and types of innovation, an increased reflexivity about the productive and noxious effects and consequences of innovation and greater analytical sensitivity to contested innovations and associated dilemmas. This talk seeks to take stock with this evolving conceptualisation of innovation and to identify critical implications for analyses of city and regional sustainability transitions.
Technology Trajectories in Less-developed Regions: The Co-evolution of Design and Economic Development
Speaker: Laura Norris, Cardiff University, UK
The study of sustainable transitions increasingly considers the role of geography, with cities and the context of developing countries particularly addressed. However, due to the natural resources required in the operation of renewable energy technology, less-developed regions are now witnessing an influx of radical innovations. Drawing on multiple spatial perspectives, the presentation considers how the region within which a technology is developed impacts technology design and proliferation. This includes antecedent industries, policy agendas, institutions and level of economic development. Furthermore, these niche technology innovations transform the place where they are developed through the introduction of new knowledge, adaptation of existing industries, and attraction of new innovative entrants. As such, the evidence suggests that these outcomes might be pursued by regional actors, influencing both economic development and technology design.
More information to follow.
More information to follow.