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The condition of urban climate experimentation

Bulkeley, Harriet

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As the trend of urban climate experimentation continues, many accounts now seek to identify how it can be harnessed towards responses of sufficient scale and magnitude for the crises at hand. The imperative is to move beyond experimentation. Yet some authors now suggest that this may not be so straightforward for, they argue, we increasingly inhabit a condition of permanent experimentation. Taking its cue from this premise, this article explores where the condition of experimentation may have emerged from. I trace these roots to the limit points now encountered within ecologically modernist governance – the shifting dynamics of governing authority, the relation between knowledge and policy, how to address indeterminacy, and what progress or improvement looks like in the condition of a climate-changed socio-natural world. Viewed in this light, experimentation, I want to suggest, represents a significant and potentially paradigm-shifting break with established norms and practices concerning the nature of the climate problem. Fundamentally, this line of thought means that it may neither be possible nor even desirable to abandon experimentation and to return to more centralized, controlled, and certain responses for it is from within the difficulties of governing a climate-changing world through this paradigm that experimentation has arisen in the first place. The vital task is instead to understand the politics and possibilities of experimentation for progressive and just urban sustainability.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 3, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 31, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Mar 8, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 28, 2023
Journal Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 1
Article Number 2188726
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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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