This presentation is the Annual Lecture for the journal Regional Studies which is owned by the Regional Studies Association (RSA). Further information about the Association and its funding activities are available from - www.regionalstudies.org.
Prof. Joan Fitzgerald, Northeastern University
Random Acts of Greenness: The Need for Cities to Up Their Game on Climate Change
The recent IPCC report reveals that the planet is close to a point of no return. In view of this alarming mandate, we must support the most aggressive climate actions possible. Yet most cities pride themselves on simply plucking the low-hanging fruit—the easy, inexpensive fixes that require little systemic change. The list is long: bike-rental systems, solar waste containers, weak green building requirements, and some recycling efforts. Going after the low-hanging fruit yields benefits, but unless such measures are part of a larger, coherent strategy for altering broad patterns of energy consumption and transportation emissions, these efforts are simply random acts of greenness.
We must be honest about what cities are accomplishing. Evidence suggests that most cities are not reducing emissions any more than their respective nations and that reductions that have occurred may be due more to state and national than city policy. This doesn’t mean cities can’t lead, but they must greatly accelerate what they are doing and how they are doing it. Focusing on small-bore measures fosters the illusion among elected officials and citizens alike that we’re doing enough. Such over-confidence muffles the enormous political will required to take on the climate crisis in a systematic, integrated fashion. We have to call out random acts of greenness for what they are. Rather than celebrating every action a city takes under the banner of “climate change,” we must focus on getting more cities on a path to greenovation.
|Introduction||David Bailey Aston University||10|
|Panelist||Joan Fitzgerald Northeastern University||50|
|Discussant||Harriet Bulkeley University of Durham||20|
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