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Low Carbon Action in Ordinary Cities

Project description

Understanding low-carbon policies in urbanising cities

Population growth in West Africa, South and South-East Asia is expected in rapidly urbanising small and medium-size cities. However, these sites lack the infrastructure to meet low-carbon transition needs, since they are outside the global networks of climate policies. The EU-funded LO-ACT project will offer the first multidimensional estimation of low-carbon action in cities seeking to cooperate in a new understanding of global environmental politics and urban governance. The project will examine the ideal local actions of global environmental policies during the past 30 years, analyse the mobility of low-carbon urban policies in transport, energy and housing, and compare urban trajectories in 113 cities.


The challenge of LO-ACT is to enable low carbon urban development in medium and small cities in rapidly urbanising areas in East, Central and West Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. The majority of emissions in the next century will be emitted by infrastructures that are yet to be built, particularly in rapidly urbanising areas where infrastructure is lacking. Population forecasts suggest that most population growth will take place in small and medium cities. Yet, to date, research on climate action has focused on showcasing strongly branded, successful initiatives in global cities. The low carbon transition depends on myriad of actions in ordinary cities, that is, cities outside global networks of climate innovation and leadership. LO-ACT will address this critical gap by delivering the first multi-dimensional, large scale assessment of low carbon action in ordinary cities. It will contribute a new framework to understand global environmental politics and urban governance.

First, LO-ACT will analyse the imaginaries of local action that have shaped global environmental politics over 30 years (Objective 1). The work programme will also analyse the mobility of low carbon urban policies in transport, energy, and housing across different urban contexts (Objective 2). LO-ACT will deliver a comparative analysis of urban trajectories in 113 ordinary cities, and five in-depth ethnographic case studies (Objective 3). Finally, it will provide a critical assessment of governance theory and a revised framework to acknowledge the messy and ordinary contexts of urban action (Objective 4).

LO-ACT will bring together an interdisciplinary, international team of researchers, an international network of academic advisors, and four regional hubs that will support context-specific data collection and analysis. The research will contribute to the fields of human geography, urban studies, environmental politics, sustainability transitions and science and technology studies.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 336 671,00
Firth court western bank
S10 2TN Sheffield
United Kingdom

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Yorkshire and the Humber South Yorkshire Sheffield
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (3)