Simon Marvin

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 mobilities 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.