Dissertation Abstracts

Urban Climate Governance: Discourses and Policies on the Issue of Climate Change. Comparison of Quebec City, Canada and Genoa, Italy.

Author: Scanu, Emiliano , emiliano.scanu.1@ulaval.ca
Department: Sociology
University: Laval, Canada
Supervisor: Louis Guay
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: French

Keywords: urban climate govern , ecological modernisa , climate change , modernity
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Regional and Urban Development


Climate change is the paradigmatic example of modernity's side-effect on contemporary societies. However, instead of questioning the institutions of modernity, policy responses to this problem have been developed in a spirit that gives a central and renewed place to these institutions. This is particularly apparent in the policy approach of ecological modernization. In the fight against climate change, ecological modernisation is now the most widespread strategy. Although ecological modernisation has been the subject of numerous studies, urban scale has been particularly neglected. This is surprising when one considers the fact that most of mitigation and adaptation measures are being carried out by municipalities. This research focuses notably on ecological modernization in cities, by addressing climate polices made by two municipalities, Quebec City, Canada, and Genoa, Italy. On the one hand, the aim is to determine whether this approach to environmental policy is present at the urban scale practically and discursively. On the other hand, the aim is to understand the specifics of this "urban ecological modernization.” Preliminary results indicate that ecological modernization is indeed implemented at the urban scale, but only in the city of Genoa. Two reasons may explain these differences. First, the European Commission—as a vector of ecological modernization—is a major player in Genoa’s climate policy. Second, in recent years Genoa started a post-industrial turn in order to build an innovative and creative city. In this context, the energy restructuring that accompanied its climate policy became an opportunity for economic growth, and at the same time contributed to reducing its carbon footprint. By contrast, the ecological modernization approach has not been adopted in Quebec City. First, the municipal council lacks political will to engage in the fight against climate change. Moreover, the city’s economic and productive structures do not seem to be compatible with the clean technology sector, which serves as the cornerstone of ecological modernisation reforms. Finally, the ecological modernisation we found in Genoa has many elements of “mainstream ecological modernisation”, but it is different insofar it reflects characteristics and dynamics of the urban milieu, that can be discussed in terms of “urban ecological modernisation.”

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