Project Publications

The following publications are co- authored by the research team and demonstrate some of the work on this project.

The climate-just city

Steele, J Hillier, D Houston, J Byrne, D MacCallum - Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice, 2018

Climate change poses significant implications for urban justice (Steele et al. 2012). The convergence of rapid urbanisation and anthropogenic climate change results in disproportionately negative effects on the urban poor and those already most marginalised (Houston et al. 2016). The more affluent in our society are less vulnerable, with the impacts of climate change felt most by the most marginalised groups, which include (but are not limited to) the urban poor, children, women and the elderly (Ambrey et al. 2017). Climate change also disproportionately impacts non-human individuals, species and worlds, where diminishing biodiversity and the loss of resilience contributes to socio-ecological instability (Houston 2008; Steele et al. 2015). Climate change is therefore an urban, cultural and environmental crisis, and the response demands unprecedented redistribution efforts by those least affected and largely responsible. Society, economy and nature are all reconfigured by the ways these connections are played out in climate hotspots around the globe.

In this chapter we focus on the application of “the climate-just city” as a conceptual framework for taking the urban equity agenda forward within the context of climate change, with specific reference to Australian cities at the local scale (Steele et al. 2012). Climate justice within the Australian city context has been historically “a chronically underdeveloped area of thinking”(Garnaut 2009, p. 1). We argue that adopting an eco-cultural-political approach through the climate-just city framework helps keep sight of the complexity of climate-induced injustice and fosters a climate-just imaginary for our times.

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Make kin, not cities! Multispecies entanglements and ‘becoming-world’ in planning theory

D Houston, J Hillier, D MacCallum, W Steele, J Byrne - Planning Theory, 2018

Much planning theory has been undergirded by an ontological exceptionalism of humans. Yet, city planning does not sit outside of the eco-social realities co-producing the Anthropocene. Urban planners and scholars, therefore, need to think carefully and critically about who speaks for (and with) the nonhuman in place making. In this article, we identify two fruitful directions for planning theory to better engage with the imbricated nature of humans and nonhumans is recognised as characteristic of the Anthropocene – multispecies entanglements and becoming-world. Drawing on the more-than-human literature in urban and cultural geography and the environmental humanities, we consider how these terms offer new possibilities for productively rethinking the ontological exceptionalism of humans in planning theory. We critically explore how planning theory might develop inclusive, ethical relationships that can nurture possibilities for multispecies flourishing in diverse urban futures, the futures that are increasingly recognised as co-produced by nonhuman agents in the context of climate variability and change. This, we argue, is critical for developing climate-adaptive planning tools and narratives for the creation of socially and environmentally just multispecies cities.

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Climate cosmopolitics and the possibilities for urban planning

D Houston, D McCallum, W Steele, J Byrne - Nature and Culture, 2016

Cosmopolitical action in a climate-changed city represents different knowledges and practices that may seem disconnected but constellate to frame stories and spaces of a climate-just city. The question this article asks is: how might we as planners identify and develop counter-hegemonic praxes that enable us to re-imagine our experience of, and responses to, climate change? To explore this question, we draw on Isabelle Stengers’s (2010) idea of cosmopolitics—where diverse stories, perspectives, experiences, and practices can connect to create the foundation for new strategic possibilities. Our article is empirically informed by conversations with actors from three Australian cities (Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth) who are mobilizing different approaches to this ideal in various grassroots actions on climate change.

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Whither justice? An analysis of local climate change responses from South East Queensland, Australia

D MacCallum, J Byrne, W Steele - Environment and planning C: government and policy, 2014

Climate change is a highly contested policy issue in Australia, generating fierce debate at every level of governance. In this paper we explore a crucial tension in both the policy and the public debate: a seeming lack of attention to social inclusion and broader equity implications. We pay special attention to the municipal scale, where concerns about social difference and democratic participation are often foregrounded in political discourse, using South East Queensland—a recognised climate change ‘hotspot’—as a case study. Mobilising critical discourse analysis techniques, we interrogate three local government climate change response strategies, and place these in the context of transscalar discourse networks which appear to sustain a technocratic, ‘ecological modernisation’ approach to the issue. Finally, we suggest a broad strategy for reimagining this approach to embed a notion of climate justice in our policy thinking about climate change.

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Climate justice in the Australian City

J Hillier, D MacCallum, W Steele, J Byrne, D Houston - State of Australian Cities 2013

Australian cities face several critical problems related to climate change and social/environmental equity. The emerging Australian scholarship on ‘climate justice’helps to explain the inequitable impacts of climate change upon marginalised and disadvantaged communities (Fritz and Wiseman 2009; Moss 2009; Steele et al 2012). Vulnerable social groups will be hardest hit by climate change whether in poorer developing nations or in the cities of western societies like Australia. But urban research on the urban equity dimensions of climate change risk and adaptation policy and governance is profoundly underdeveloped in key areas where decisions affecting issues of urban quality, equity and justice are made (eg public infrastructure provision, regulation of private development, environmental management, location of services etc). In this paper we address critical gaps in existing research by taking a ‘practice approach’to how we might better support climate justice at the metropolitan scale in Australia.

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Planning the climate-just city

W Steele, D MacCallum, J Byrne, D Houston - International Planning Studies, 2012

Issues of urban equity have long been linked to urban planning. Yet in practice the quest for the ‘just city’, defined in terms of democracy, diversity, difference and sustainability, has proven to be highly problematic. Drawing on examples from the Australian urban context, we argue that the imperative of climate change adds urgency to the longstanding equity agenda of planning in cities. In our normative quest for the climate-just city we offer a conceptual and analytical framework for integrating the principles of climate justice and equity into urban planning thinking and practice.

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Environmental imaginaries: climate change as an object of urban governance

D MacCallum, W Steele, J Byrne, D Houston - State of Australian Cities, 2011

Our attention to the social aspects of climate change response is driven by both practical and theoretical concerns. There is growing evidence that climate change will impact most brutally on populations already marginalised by economic and cultural forces; that its well-documented implications for (e.g.) health, employment and security are likely to disproportionately affect communities which are vulnerable due to poverty, age, minority status, family structure, land tenure, poor infrastructure and access to services (Kelly/Adger 2001; Sherrard/Tate 2007) and, thus, magnify existing socio-economic inequities (Gasper et al. 2011). However, public discourse and policy responses tend to focus on technology subsidies and financial risk management – witness for example recent media attention to situating liability in relation to sea-front properties (e.g. Fyfe 2009; Wilkinson 2009; Hope 2011) – creating a danger that the benefits of government action will unduly flow to business and wealthy property owners, exacerbating rather than addressing the inequities of uneven urban development. How might this danger be mitigated?

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