Prof. Simon Marvin, Distinguished Lecture Series 2011-2012

Wed, 07/03/2012 - 17:00
Saïd Business School, Park End Street
'Low Carbon Nation: Making new market opportunities'
Speaker: Simon Marvin, Durham Energy Institute, University of Durham
Chair: Steve Rayner, InSIS, University of Oxford
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The transition to a low carbon future is a key challenge of our time. In the policy and strategy documents of international bodies, the UK government, sub-national authorities, businesses, and in the work of academics it is recognised that a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is required. The scale of the transition required is fundamental. Frequently, both policy and popular discourse privilege market, technological and behavioral change. Yet, it remains underspecified where, how and who should be involved in making low carbon futures and with what consequences. So too, at a democratic level, is the why of low carbon futures underdeveloped.

To contribute to the widening of this debate, this lecture develops a critical analysis of the dominant pathways through which low carbon Britain is currently emerging. It examines the ways in which economic and ecological crises are mobilised as the basis for low carbon experimentation, the spatial politics of the re-organisation of governing state-space and the material strategies – retrofitting, off-shore wind, low emission motilities and new grid infrastructures – that are designed to translate in to new interrelationships within, and external to, state-space. The lecture will debate how to enlarge and challenge the dominant and exclusive coalitions of social interests that have been shaping the largely techno-economic response to the question of low carbon transition.


Simon is currently the Carillion Chair of Low Carbon Cities and Deputy Director of Durham Energy Institute in Department of Geography at the University of Durham. He is also a Visiting Professor in SURF at the University of Salford. Simon is an expert on the changing relations between cities, regions and infrastructure networks in a period of resource constraint, institutional restructuring and climate change. His research is currently focused on two large programmes. The first programme looks at comparative urban responses to climate change and resource constraint by cities in Africa, China, Sweden and the UK. The second programme, funded by the EPSRC, looks at whether and how UK cities develop the knowledge and capability to systemically reengineer their built environment and urban infrastructure. Simon is a co-author of six internationally leading books on cities and infrastructure. His latest books are: Cities and Low Carbon Transitions (2010), an edited collection in collaboration with H. Bulkeley, V. Castan-Broto and M. Hodson; Shaping Urban Infrastructures – Intermediaries and the Governance of Socio-Technical Networks (2010), also an edited collection with colleagues S. Guy, W. Medd and T. Moss; and World Cities and Climate Change (2010), with M. Hodson.

This lecture was part of the Future of Cities Distinguished Lecture Series 2011-2012.