Greening cosmopolitan urbanism? On the transnational mobility of low-carbon formats in Northern European and East Asian cities
This paper engages key social theories of transnational mobilities in order to forge the concept of urban ‘green’ cosmopolitization, posited as a social scientific contribution to epochal conversations on climate change. Bringing Ulrich Beck’s notion of ‘cosmopolitization’ to bear on recent work around ‘urban policy mobilities’, I analyze professional planning practices in large-scale world cities as privileged sites for contemporary imaginings and material implementations of low-carbon sociotechnical change. Focusing on the regions of Europe and Asia, I show how specific policies and technologies of urban greening circulate in intercity sustainability networks. These networks, I suggest, serve to organize processes of professional engagement with climate change around notions of innovation, learning, and ‘best practice’ policy transfer among urban professionals—thereby also excluding more ‘radically’ alternative futures. The paper then turns to explore how such green cosmopolitization works as a social force within specific urban localities, employing two ethnographic case studies into ‘ambitious’ low-carbon planning projects in Copenhagen and Kyoto, respectively. In particular, my analysis explores how place-based notions of ‘culture’ are mobilized in the urban visions of architects and engineers as resources for addressing global environmental risks. These spaces of urban green cosmopolitization, I conclude, emerge at the intersection of professional and vernacular ethico-political attachments, thereby reworking—in often contentious ways—how particular urban materials and spaces can be understood in reference to an emerging moral geography of shared climatic risks. Keywords: urban policy mobilities, climate change, green cosmopolitization, world city networks, place-based eco-identities
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