Rescaling low-carbon transformations: Towards a relational ontology

Stefan Bouzarovski, Håvard Haarstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scale is an emergent theme in current scientific and policy debates on low-carbon urban transformations. Yet notions of scale employed in such contexts are typically based on linear and hierarchical ontologies, and miss out on the long-standing development of more nuanced conceptions of scale within Human Geography. This paper aims to advance a relational understanding of scale in the analysis and evaluation of low-carbon urban initiatives (LCUIs). We wish to lay the path towards an innately geographical conceptualisation of low-carbon urban transformations more generally, in which cities are not seen as rigid and passive physical containers for decarbonisation initiatives, but rather as key nodes within vibrant socio-technical networks operating across multiple material sites. Using a case study of the transnational and translocal REACH (Reduce Energy use And Change Habits) project funded by the European Union as illustration, we argue that low-carbon urban transformations are immanently constituted of three sets of relational processes across scale, involving (1) politicisation, (2) enrolment and (3) the hybridisation of human and material agencies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Early online date7 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • decarbonisation
  • hybrid geographies
  • networks
  • scale
  • urban transformations


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