Urban sprawl, global warming and the limits of ecological modernisation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The diffusion of urban development results in higher emissions of global warming gases, especially carbon dioxide, because urban sprawl results in higher energy use in transportation and the heating and cooling of spacious homes on the urban periphery. The techniques and politics underlying the diffuse urban form were pioneered in the United States in the late nineteenth century, where landowners and developers sought to use mechanised forms of transportation to increase the value of their land holdings. Today, leading international business organisations seeking to curb anthropogenic climate change gases do not attempt to reform sprawled urban landscapes, but instead promote technological reforms that would allow sprawl to continue. This is because urban sprawl pushes up demand for such consumer durables as automobiles and household appliances. In this article the author describes how the techniques of urban sprawl were developed and championed politically by landholders and developers in the US. The author also describes the perils and limits in relying on technology to abate anthropogenic climate change gases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-362
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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