ASSEMBLING CLIMATE PUBLICS Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University
Outline Making Climate Public A Climate for Community? Assembling Governance Climate Assemblies in Practice Transition Brixton, London Hexham River Hydro, Northumbria Conclusions
Making Climate Public I Climate change is seen as the paradigmatic example of a public problem: of common goods and collective action
Making Climate Public II The New Public Domain?
Making Climate Public II The New Public Domain? Hybrid networks of public/private actors creating new (transnational) domains where: ‘expectations regarding legitimate social purposes, including the respective roles of different social sectors and actors, are articulated, contested, and take shape as social facts’ (Ruggie 2004: 504).
A Climate for Community? “we often achieve more acting together than as individuals. The role of the Government should be to create an environment where the innovation and ideas of communities can flourish, and people feel supported in making informed choices, so that living greener lives becomes easy and the norm” (HM Government 2009: 92). this Strategy aims to help these existing groups grow and to inspire more to set up and expand. We want to tap into the enthusiasm and commitment that’s so evident in community groups across the country – whether it’s for helping people struggling with energy bills or for playing a part in the global race to decarbonise our society. (HM Government 2014: 3) Low Carbon Transition Plan 2009Community Energy Strategy 2014
A Climate for Community? Community as a rationality and set of techniques of government: “notions of local empowerment and engagement, capacity building and local knowledge are seen as strategies that create a moral subjectivity of responsible self-help and self- reliance” Summerville et al Empowering communities …… or government at a distance? Seyfang et al. 2013: 981
Assembling Governance “governance is done through the arrangement and management of people and objects, producing the material conditions that make particular ways of being comprehensible and possible” Gabriel 2014: 42
Assembling Governance “Procedures to authorize and legitimize are important, but it is only half of what is needed to assemble. The other half lies in the matters that matter, in the res that creates a public around it” (Latour 2006: 16) “New climatic constellations spur the emergence of hybrid problem-solving assemblies, which do not reside at any particular scale or territory, but rather involve their own spatio-temporalities of socio-material relations” (Blok 2014)
Climate Assemblies in Practice Hexham River Hydro British Gas and River Cottage Energy Share Competition Public vote to win funding for a feasibility study “…..the community aspect is really important … one of our leading lights [in Hexham River Hydro] is a very great fan of wind power but he strongly criticises the current method under which the developer takes all the profits and the people who are in the surrounding area get nothing at all” (Interview, 2012). “So it was a public vote, I always say it’s a bit like Strictly Come Dancing you know it’s that kind of mentality, you’ve got to show your feathers and folk vote for you and that’s before you’ve actually done all the work” (Interview, 2012).
Climate Assemblies in Practice “It will be up to the Hexham Hydro team to convince the community, the anglers, the riparian owners and the County Council and Environment Agency that a hydro can be added without compromising the river and the fish who swim in it. That is a big hurdle for them to overcome. No one wants anything that will in any way damage the river and what runs through it” (Tully, 2012).
Climate Assemblies in Practice HRH gathers diverse social and material interests into a consensus and new configuration as to what constitutes a local climate response The “climate public” is assembled through the practice of enacting ‘micro-hydro’ – competition, calculations, bringing the river into the climate domain Insertion in landscape unsettles community of river users and brings new entities into matters of climate concern which in turn serve to disrupt and reframe what ‘counts’ as a response to climate change
Climate Assemblies in Practice A Low Carbon Zone (LCZ) is a local geographic area with concentrated activity to try out innovative ways of reducing CO2 emissions. (GLA 2009a 29). Brixton Low Carbon Zone: the London Borough of Lambeth, Transition Town Brixton, and United Resident Housing Launched in March 2010 and contains around 3,500 properties. “We’ve found it hard to actually communicate the low carbon zone as a community because it’s very arbitrary” [LCZ Interview, 2011]
Climate Assemblies in Practice Material Politics: Making Publics through Draught Busting “So we were doing our Green Community Champions … And running draught busting workshops and we got a few more people involved in running draught busting and they were like “oh, I’d really like to know how you do this”, and so the Transition Town people were taking it on. And now, today, they’re a social enterprise and set up on their own and they are known as Community Draught Busters. And we helped them in terms of putting a business model together” (LCZ, Interview 2011)
Climate Assemblies in Practice “Yes, it’s sharing the risk. I mean whether anybody in these things actually sits down and thinks things through on a very basic level, nobody ever does because if you did, you wouldn’t do it, it’s like with anything” [Brixton Energy, Interview 2011]
Climate Assemblies in Practice Brixton’s Low Carbon Zone exceeds the demarcated spaces of governance and framing of the climate issue through creating new ‘assembly’ around climate change Alongside a politics of calculation through which carbon is counted, climate is made to matter in new ways through reconfiguring the (mundane) materiality of housing (and food) in the borough Climate is at once both rendered invisible in these politics as questions of provision and poverty take centre stage, but drawn into the limelight through the development of new forms of energy generation
Conclusions Climate’s publics are not given but rather are assembled through the practice of governing New governance spaces & collaborative arrangements constitute publics not only in terms of dialogue and networks but also through their material configurations As climate is made public so too are publics related to climate as the matters with which they are to be concerned are gathered and contested The politics of climate governance can then be found in socio-material ordering/bounding of climate assemblies Practical interventions, new infrastructures, devices and technologies are not simply ‘technical’ fixes but can provide the spaces for a new climate politics
Dr. Andrea Armstrong (Durham) and Dr. Sara Fuller (Macquarie) Contact: Thank You