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Rethinking climate futures through urban fabrics: (De)growth, densification, and the politics of scale

Knuth, Sarah and Stehlin, John and Millington, Nate (2020) 'Rethinking climate futures through urban fabrics: (De)growth, densification, and the politics of scale.', Urban Geography, 41 (10). pp. 1335-1343.


In the face of climate destabilizations and breakdowns, debates about (de)growth and scale have been particularly significant within critical scholarship. These debates counterpose radically different political positionings, with implications for how the planetary future is envisioned. Must societies build their way out of climate change’s existential threat via massive new investments in techno-infrastructural (re)development? Or are these visions fatally flawed, requiring altogether different programs of degrowth, techno-skeptical reimagination, and decentralization? We argue that disputes about scale and “descaling” for climate action require a better theory of the urban, especially in relation to density and processes of densification. We must trouble both the (over)sell of urban density and eco-efficiencies as a response to climate change, while also pushing against the persistent anti-urbanism in much thinking around descaling, decentralization, and relocalization. Ultimately, we argue that disputes about scale within climate action need more thorough grounding in actually existing geographies and their politics.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Urban Geography on 27th November 2020, available online:
Date accepted:09 November 2020
Date deposited:09 March 2021
Date of first online publication:27 November 2020
Date first made open access:13 December 2021

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