My research focuses on the governance of low carbon and urban sustainability transitions. I examine the policies and political dynamics governing these complex transformations. In particular, my work advances new ways of understanding urban environmental governance and politics and examines the reconfiguration of urban systems to put cities on more sustainable footing.
My areas of research have included transnational urban climate governance, deep decarbonization of buildings, community energy planning, and nature-based solutions for urban sustainability. This research program is necessarily interdisciplinary and I draw on post-structuralist political theory, science studies, and critical energy geographies in my research.
My postdoctoral research focuses on social justice and urban climate change resiliency. In particular, my research analyzes whether nature-based solutions can address environmental concerns such as water supply and biodiversity conservation while contributing to economic and social well-being in Cape Town. This research is part of the NATURVATION project, which involves 14 institutions across Europe working in fields as diverse as urban development, innovation studies, geography, ecology, environmental assessment and economics. Our partnership includes city governments, non-governmental organisations and business. We assess what nature-based solutions can achieve in cities, examine how innovation is taking place, and work with communities and stakeholders to develop the knowledge and tools required to realise the potential of nature-based solutions for meeting urban sustainability goals.
Urban Decarbonization: Practices and Politics of Urban Carbon Neutrality
My PhD research evaluated whether urban low carbon initiatives are catalysing systemic change. It focused on the implementation of building energy efficiency and renewable energy using in-depth case studies of Stockholm, London and San Francisco and analysis of seventeen municipal greenhouse gas emission reduction plans. I argued that the seeds of systemic change can be analyzed as low carbon initiatives unfold by considering whether they materially and politically untangle fossil fuels from society. I concluded that urban decarbonization is successfully gaining political momentum when it comes to new buildings, although with concerning implications for social justice due to green gentrification, but that systemic change is limited since efforts to target existing buildings are stumbling over challenges. This research expanded the toolkit available to examine success in carbon governance by recognizing potential seeds of systemic change. [Download my thesis here]