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Retrofitting cities: Local governance in Sydney, Australia

Dowling, R.; McGuirk, P.; Bulkeley, H.A.

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R. Dowling

P. McGuirk


Transforming cities to a lower carbon future is one of the key challenges of contemporary urban governance. Retrofitting the city – or modifying existing urban infrastructures, buildings and daily life to suit different energy sources and different expectations of energy consumption – is essential to this transformation. In urban studies, little focus has yet been applied to the shape and character of urban governance frameworks and mechanisms required to successfully retrofit cities. In this paper we address this lacuna by exploring the logics, practices and dynamics of retrofitting governance in the Australian city. Using a governmentality perspective, the paper identifies the involvements of different scales of government in retrofitting policies and mechanisms and connections between them. Based on a unique survey of carbon reduction initiatives involving government, business and community actors across Australia’s capital cities, we outline the types of retrofitting solutions being proposed and enacted. Using a focus on local initiatives from Sydney, Australia’s largest city, the paper documents four key techniques through which retrofitting is being governed – self-governing, holistic, facilitative and educative. The findings suggest that governance gaps remain in attending to the daily life of technologies and the materiality of daily life.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 10, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jul 16, 2014
Journal Cities
Print ISSN 0264-2751
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Pages 18-24
Keywords Urban climate governance, Governmentality, Australian cities, Retrofitting.
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (623 Kb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cities. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cities, 38, 2014, 10.1016/j.cities.2013.12.004.

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