Caprotti, Federico (2014). Eco-cities and the transition to low carbon economies. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan. 136 p. ISBN : 9781137298751 (Hardcover) / 9781137298751 (Ebook EPUB) / 9781137298751 (Ebook PDF).
Eco-cities are increasingly being marketed as solutions to a range of pressing global concerns, such as environmental and climate change, hyper-urbanization, demographic shifts, energy security, and the Peak Oil scenario. In response to these issues, eco-cities are being conceptualized as ‘experimental cities’, new urban areas in which new technologies and ways of organizing urban and economic life can be trialled, and where transition pathways towards low-carbon economies can be tested. The author examines the two most advanced eco-city projects under construction at the time of writing – the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City in China, and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These are the largest and most notable attempts at building new eco-cities to both face up to the ‘crises’ of the modern world and to use the city as an engine for transition to a low-carbon economy.
This study traces the transnational interactions that contributed to introducing the low-carbon economy agenda into Chinese policymaking. A microprocessual two-level analysis (outside-in as well as inside-access) is employed to analyse transnational and domestic exchanges. The study provides evidence that low-carbon agenda-setting – introduced by transnational actors, backed by foreign funding, promoted by policy entrepreneurs from domestic research institutes, propelled by top-level attention, but only gradually and cautiously adopted by the government bureaucracy – can be considered a case of effective transnational diffusion based on converging perceptions of novel policy challenges and options. Opinion leaders and policy-brokers from the government-linked scientific community functioned as effective access points to the Chinese government’s policy agenda.
Ploberger, Christian (2013). China’s adaptation challenges : a critical assessment of China’s ability to facilitate a strategic shift towards a low-carbon economy by applying the structure–agency framework. Journal of Contemporary China, 22(84), pp. 1028-1047. DOI:10.1080/10670564.2013.795314
China’s reform/opening process has been exceptionally successful at generating lasting economic growth and in lifting millions of people out of absolute poverty. However, this success came at a significant price. Environmental degeneration represents one critical issue. Other serious topics include an increasing income and development gap between and within provinces, and between rural and urban areas. A proposed shift towards a low-carbon economy seems to provide an answer in addressing this complex environmental–development challenge. However, decisions on a future course of action are not made in a political, economic or social vacuum, instead decisions are made in the context of a particular structural environment, which restricts the options available for actors. Applying a structure–agency approach will help to identify and highlight the existing structural challenges inherent within China’s development strategy.