date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 11:53:43 -0000
from: "Gill Seyfang" <g.seyfangatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: FW: ESRC seminar on local economic development and climate change
Please reply to Peter North
From: Economic Geography Research Group [mailto:ECONOMIC-GEOGRAPHY@JISCMAIL.AC.UK] On
Behalf Of North, Peter
Sent: 30 November 2006 11:51
Subject: ESRC seminar on local economic development and climate change
Apologies for cross posting, but list members might be interested in the following ESRC
seimar series starting 6th February in Liverpool.
Local economic development: Restructuring for climate change
6th February 2007, University of Liverpool.
The first in a two year ESRC-funded seminar series "Local economic development in the face
of dangerous climate change and resource constraints."
This introductory seminar is the first of six which will examine what dangerous climate
change and peak oil means for local economic development strategies. Critiquing
growth-orientated perspectives of local economic development, the seminar series will
examine which conventional growth options might be problematic in terms of a forthcoming
ecological crisis, and what an alternative programme would look like.
The seminar series will investigate what it means to be radical in terms of economic
strategy? Is it possible to define a radical local economic strategy? Does being radical
need a radical movement, and what sorts of movements exist? It will examine experiences of
radical local action, local initiatives, coalitions, social movements and previous forms of
radical local economic action interacted with processes of large scale economic change in
order to draw appropriate lessons from them. Do the lessons of the past still hold? How
might we avoid past mistakes?
This first seminar will scope the issues and set up the research seminar series, enabling
discussions to be developed more fully over the coming two years.
Introduction: Dr Peter North, University of Liverpool
Peter will introduce the seminar series with a review of our understanding of the extent
that climate change represents a serious or mitigable problem. What might the consequences
for the UK be, and to what extent do suggested possible solutions meet the threat? Is
`growth orientated local economic development part of the problem, or, focussing
understandably of growth and poverty alleviation, just disconnected from policy on climate
change. What sort of issues should we be considering in the seminar series?
Professor Erik Swyngedouw, University of Manchester
The science of climate change is deeply contested, as are human responses to it. For some
we are in clear and present danger and the solutions are obvious, while others reject the
idea that all we are seeing is more than a natural change in the earth's temperature. Some
are accused of indulging in apocalyptic musings which freeze us and prevent solutions
emerging, while others are accused of being in the pay of `big oil'. Erik will explore the
ecological apocalypse as a populist `strange attractor' occluding an understanding of the
pathologies of capitalism, and argue for democratic control of solutions to environmental
Professor Alan Cochrane, The Open University
Climate change and resource depletion are obviously phenomena that require global action,
if not a globally co-ordinated re-engineering of our economic system. Yet paradoxically
often the most dynamic action comes at the local level, as cities act locally to address
climate change problems through the Cities for Climate Change programme, the Nottingham
Declaration, the Aalberg Process and the like. For some time we have known that local
action in the face of structural change is of limited efficacy, yet also essential. Alan
will review thirty years of local economic development policy in an effort to uncover what
works, what is merely window dressing disguising wider processes.
Professor David Gibbs, University of Hull
Action on climate change is not new: it has been addressed by citizen action, campaigns
against road building, dams and the like, for environmental justice, and through policies
for sustainable development. Again, the effectiveness of local action in response to
global challenges is an issue, as is the efficacy of institutional processes such as Local
Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development policy when contrasted with campaigns with more
overtly oppositional strategies. David will review experiences of Sustainable
Development, similarly uncovering effective and more therapeutic approaches.
Ted Trainer, University of New South Wales, Australia
For some, more radical approaches are required. For example, James Lovelock argues that
humanity has already done irremediable damage to the planet's life systems, and we now need
a managed retreat from industrialisation. Ted will argue that our
industrial-affluent-consumer society is extremely unjust and ecologically unsustainable,
and problems cannot be solved in a society that is driven by obsession with high rates of
production and consumption, affluent living standards, market forces, the profit motive and
economic growth. A sustainable and just world order cannot be achieved until we undertake
radical change in our lifestyles, values and systems, especially in our economic system.
The alternative we must work for is a `Simpler Way', based on frugal "living standards",
co-operation, high levels of local economic self-sufficiency, and zero economic growth.
Background to the series.
For the past twenty or thirty years local economies have been having to cope with long term
structural changes associated with the decline of manufacturing and the growth of the new
service and `knowledge' economies. This restructuring process is now largely complete, and
given that there has been a long period of uninterrupted economic growth in the UK since
the mid-1990s, seemingly there is a consensus about the way forward for local economies.
The current `taken for granted' local economic development paradigm focuses on:
o place marketing, events and festivals (Manchester Olympics, Liverpool Capital of
o infrastructure and communications development;
o developing the local economy's specific advantage within the global division of
labour (generally in the UK, within the `knowledge' economy and clusters); and
o focussing on culture and the `creative classes' as the new drivers for growth.
However, this new consensus, takes no cognisance of two of the major threats that all local
economies will have to deal with over the next twenty years:
o climate change, leading to extremes of and greater instabilities of weather, or
economic activities which fit current climatic conditions becoming no longer viable;
o the end of the era of cheap and plentiful oil, with the knock on that will have
for carbon-fuelled economies.
Co-ordinated by Peter North, Department of Geography, University of Liverpool.
P.J.NorthatXYZxyz.ac.uk Room details to follow.
The seminar is free, but prior registration is required. Lunch will be provided.
There are limited number of ESRC-funded travel bursaries available on a strictly first come
first served basis for postgraduate students and practitioners - applications to Peter
More details of the seminar series and forthcoming seminars can be found at: