Creating Transformative Force?: The Role of Spatial Planning in Climate Change Transitions Towards Sustainable Transportation

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Hjerpe Mattias
Sofie Storbjörk

Informed by the concept of strategy-making, this paper analyses the ability of spatial planning to support local climate change transitions towards sustainable transportation in two case studies of planning in Swedish municipalities with comparatively high climate ambitions. The analysis shows that the expectations on planning to effect change need to be moderated. Not even in these climate-ambitious municipalities did transportation planning result in strategic reorientation. While climate change was clearly filtered into local strategy-making, no new climate frame was established. Rather in goals it was linked to an overall attractive city storyline. Transportation planners have sought to mobilize force through developing new tools and routines to strengthen the role of climate change. In detailed planning, however, when plans become legally binding, agency in relation to climate change was limited by allowing private actors a pivotal position. Also, tools were used selectively and when settling priorities, climate change was subordinate to economic growth interests. While the planning observed can be regarded as weak, its ability to support climate transition would have been even weaker had it not been linked to the attractive city storyline. Consequently, to facilitate climate transition mobilizing force needs to be generated within the current local implementation structure.

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