Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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The moral discourse around low carbon transitions currently favours justice as its main virtue (often expressed through the concept of just transition), often highlighting injustice within the current system. When we aim for justice, our focus is on what is lacking rather than what is possible. Low carbon transitions are an opportunity to reinvent our systems and ways of life but also the associated virtues that guide them. The transition must exclude no one and must prioritize those most in need and most disadvantaged by the current system. In this context, the concept of justice (transitioning away from fossil fuels in a way which promotes a fairer world) is a useful guide. But is justice all we should be aiming for? This chapter experiments with positioning alternative virtues as guiding principles for low carbon transitions and reflects on the implications for inclusion and the promotion of thriving through transition. Ultimately, we put forward an alternative framework, which does not ignore justice but promotes the virtues of generosity and care as foundations of justice or complements to it. In concert, these virtues have the potential to shape transitions from the starting point of genuine concern for the wellbeing of others.

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Ocean soups of plastic have provided increasingly visceral signs of major problems with modern systems of production and consumption, leading to calls for action towards ‘zero waste’ by promoting the circular economy (CE). While superficially attractive, the CE idea faces a raft of problems that extend well beyond the technical and the monetary to everyday social practices. This chapter charts the problematic imaginary of the CE idea and domestic waste. In so doing five key points are made. First, that the CE focus on technology and behaviour change pays insufficient attention to distributional impacts, inclusion and social life. Second, that current approaches to domestic recycling are set to exacerbate already existing inequalities, and are unlikely to advance sustainability. Third, socio-material entanglements in domestic waste are centred as a means to approach inclusion. Fourth, social practices and the capabilities approach are both proposed as foundations for a future domestic discard regime. Finally, ideas are presented for relational-informed local waste governance.

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Climate change is making periods of extreme heat both more intense and more frequent in many places around the world. This chapter considers the interrelation between transitioning to a post-carbon condition and the need to simultaneously adapt to the growing threat from extreme heat. We conceptualize ‘keeping cool’ using the framework of the capabilities approach, before exploring how exclusion from cooling operates within low-income communities in the Global South. We argue that cool inclusion demands explicit attention to social justice, that it entails a fundamental recognition of the struggles involved in avoiding or coping with heat, and that it should be premised on the thermal autonomy to secure what cooling is most needed for. Strategies for cooling in a decarbonizing world must not assume blanket holding down of energy use, but rather engage in questions of justice in relation to populations routinely rendered invisible, illegal and impoverished, including in overarching transition discourses.

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This chapter briefly sketches a degrowth perspective revealing the challenge of inequities within global production for trade and flows of trade, and offers a Minority World analysis-cum-response of those implicated in an ‘imperial mode of living’ (Brand and Wissen, 2021). An Australian activist who tries to exchange this mode for a ‘solidarity mode of living’ (Brand and Wissen, 2021) is tracked, including their move to eco-collaborative housing (a key housing for degrowth strategy). Zürich’s ‘radical young housing cooperatives’ model is explored to demonstrate that accessible, affordable and ecologically sustainable best practice models of eco-collaborative housing incorporate aspects of an holistic, feminist, caring economy approach and have transformative potential to overturn the imperial mode of living, pointing towards a solidarity mode of living and caring commons. This discussion benefits from degrowth-aligned Majority World perspectives, engaging with degrowth discourses taking account of global dimensions of post-carbon inclusion.

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Inclusion is so central to the response to climate change that any response that does not place inclusion at the centre imperils the whole project and, therefore, the future of humanity. Current proposed solutions to mitigate climate change are exacerbating inequality, and feeding both misery and resistance to climate mitigation as a societal goal. While markets create the poverty and the social boundaries that imperil decarbonization, national governments protect national interests against planetary interests, inter-generational interests and inter-species interests. Post-carbon inclusion is, thus, not simply a ‘nice-to-have’ combination, rather it is a necessary agenda that supersedes decarbonization via business-as-usual processes.

The implications for post-carbon inclusion research and practice are grouped here into three entangled and overlapping elements: mapping the terrain through deeper understandings of society and practice; resetting rights and justice; and empowerment and agency. The resultant agenda provides directions for research and policy communities working in partnership in the growing field of post-carbon inclusion studies. As pointed out by movements of environmental justice, degrowth and social justice, hope lies in new forms of engagement, in new agents and actors operating in new ways.

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Transitions to low carbon domestic heating systems need to speed up. However, the speed of the transition must not compromise inclusivity and opportunities to redress injustices inherent in the current system. This chapter forwards two core arguments: first, it argues that, although mundane, changes to the way we heat our homes are also personal and can be life-altering. If the transition to low carbon heating is to avoid disadvantaging anyone then care must be taken to understand how different groups within society, and even different individuals within a household, are differentially affected by changes to home heating. Second, drawing on an Anglo-Swedish study, we argue that we have transitioned from one approach to home heating to another before, offering opportunities to learn from experiences of past heating transitions to inform a fairer and more inclusive transition this time around. Learning from past heating transitions requires the introduction of historical methods to the field of energy studies and we consider the merits of oral histories in this context. Important considerations are prompted by the deep, personal accounts of transition shared by respondents, raising important considerations for those driving the transition, helping to bridge policy discourse and life worlds.

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The climate emergency and COVID-19 have brought fresh urgency to both housing financialization and home as building blocks of societies. In westernized homeowner dominated societies, a seemingly eternal housing affordability crisis and gentrification are perennial features of policy agendas. In this context, prospects are assessed for the proliferation of inclusive housing in the post-carbon era, confronting the idea that homeownership is the only or best option, and that a growth model of economic development is the route to achieving this. The chapter forms a bridge between contemporary mainstream narratives of affordable housing and radical degrowth analyses of a prefigurative nature. Housing studies is reflected on as a diverse field, connecting normative ideas of housing as a three-part social construct – a commodity-cum-asset (homeownership, housing markets, investments and capital accumulation); housing with use values offering spaces (shelter) and services and comforts (such as climate control and locational convenience); and housing as ‘home’ where affective dimensions of dwellings connect to subjective meanings, emotions, memory and ontological security.

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Housing retrofit for decarbonization occupies a central project in addressing the climate emergency, and this is made even more pressing by rising pressure on access to decent affordable housing. Contributing factors include conflict, trade wars, financialized housing systems, COVID-19 and complexities in retrofit services of provision. While fitting extra insulation and choosing efficient appliances may seem modest and achievable, in reality, housing retrofit is affective, place-specific, socio-material, and reflects dynamic and heterogeneous norms and standards. Added to this are contemporary structural inequities in housing, homemaking, property condition, tenure, typology and histories of refurbishment. Conventional discourses of energy paybacks, behaviour and market-based action are insufficient. Policies that incentivize individual home improvements and consumption are part of the problem, not the solution, and only demote ideas of community-wide retrofit for the planetary commons. This chapter explores inclusive and decommodified approaches to post-carbon housing retrofit grounded in people’s socio-material experiences. Drawing upon a large four-year project involving over 100 interviews with householders in Australia, it aims to contribute to an agenda of housing retrofit for post-carbon inclusion. Ways of shifting industry practices are contrasted with local self-organized approaches to examine how to scale-up retrofit in heterogeneous socio-material conditions.

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Urban sustainability experiments have drawn wide interest among scholars and practitioners of decarbonization. They often envisage agile local governments working with community initiatives, such as direct forms of exchange that shorten production-consumption chains and provide for human scale decarbonization practice. However, in reality, cities are entangled in globalized systems, whether they be ubiquitous digital technologies or data systems, or cultures and social rules associated with them. Moreover, national governments retain significant jurisdictional and financial power over city governments, and multi-level governance of post-carbon cities remains fraught and complex. This provides an overview of the diversity of urban experiments and networks that aim at enhancing urban sustainability. Drawing on a database of 80 projects in Australia and internationally, an empirical framework is proposed for situating post-carbon urban experiments within the broader field of urban experiments. So defined, post-carbon urban experiments focus on actions that deliberately aim to achieve inclusion and environmental sustainability, while practising for a post-carbon world. The considerable work done to date on ideas of socio-technical transitions and urban living labs is recognized. The conclusion reflects on prospects for urban post-carbon inclusion in practice.

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Post-carbon inclusion and the transformations needed to strip carbon-heavy techno-energies out of urban life are approached through a temporal lens, drawing on rhythmanalytic thinking and on recent moves towards ‘chrono-urbanism’ in urban planning. The urban is conceived in both polyrhythmic and poly-energetic terms and four principles for rhythm oriented de-energization are outlined: decelerating urban processes; reconnecting social, environmental and biological rhythms; localizing polyrhythmic relations; and enabling the shared synchronization and sequencing of rhythms of activity and infrastructure. It is argued that in applying these principles close attention has to be paid to inclusion and to the distribution of the direct and indirect benefits of temporally oriented de-energization strategies. To centre on a practical example, the emblematic case of contemporary chrono-urbanism – the ‘15-minute city’ – is considered. As a superficially appealing objective, under closer examination this highlights both the possibilities but also the tensions involved in temporally as well as spatially reorganizing the reproduction of everyday urban life.

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