Publication Details

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P. & Maalsen, S. (2018). Multiscalar governance of urban energy transitions in Australia: The cases of Sydney and Melbourne. Energy research and social science, 44 260-267.


Sustainable energy transitions - broadly described as moving away from fossil fuels toward renewable resources and reducing energy demand- are emerging across the world, albeit in uneven ways. Scholarship on energy transitions has highlighted the importance of how these transitions may be facilitated or impeded by both governance and politics, and the influence of urban dynamics and histories on these transitions. Using an emphasis on multiscalar governance, this paper analyses emergent energy reconfigurations in Australia, with two purposes. The first is to understand more richly the dynamics that are differentially reworking possibilities for more sustainable energy infrastructure and energy demand in a fossil-fuel dependent nation. Second, we focus on the role of cities, considering the workings of urban energy transitions, most especially through governing the materiality of urban commercial space. Drawing on empirical examples from Australia's two largest cities we suggest that the urban is a crucial nexus through which energy transitions are instigated, manifest and contested. We conclude by confirming that the strategic pursuit of political-economic interests of the urban, in partnership with other state and non-state actors, creates opportunities for energy transitions rendered difficult by institutional and material obduracies.

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