The Day After Tomorrow: Transition Management, Spatial Planning & the Low Carbon Economy

Geraint Ellis, John Barry, Robin Curry, Therese Hume

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Many of the societal challenges that current spatial planning practice claims to be addressing (climate change, peak oil, obesity, aging society etc) encompass issues and timescales that lie beyond the traditional scope planning policy (Campbell 2006). The example of achieving a low carbon economy typifies this in that it demands a process of society-wide transition, involving steering a wide range of factors (markets, infrastructure, governance, individual behaviour etc). Such a process offers a challenge to traditional approaches to planning as they cannot be guided by a fixed blueprint, given the timescales involved (up to 50 years) and an enhanced level of uncertainty, social resistance, lack of control over implementation and a danger of ‘policy lock in’ (Kemp et al 2007). One approach to responding to these challenges is the concept of transition management which has emerged from studies of science, technology and innovation (Geels 2002, Markard et al 2012). Although not without criticism, this perspective attempts to uncertainty and complexity encompassing long term visions that integrates multi-level, multi-actor and multi-domain perspectives (Rotmans et al 2001).
Given its origins, research on transition management has tended to neglect spatial contexts (Coenen et al 2012) and, related to this, it’s relationship with spatial planning is poorly understood. Using the example of the low carbon transition, this paper will review the relationships between the concepts, methodologies and goals of transition management and spatial planning to explore whether a closer integration of the two fields offers benefits to achieving the long term challenges facing society.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2015
EventAESOP Prague Annual Congress 2015: Definite space - fuzzy responsibility - Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 13 Jul 201516 Jul 2015


ConferenceAESOP Prague Annual Congress 2015: Definite space - fuzzy responsibility
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


  • energy
  • Transition Management
  • spatial planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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