Balancing Industry, Identity and the Environment: How a Carbon-Intesive City in Northern Japan is Narrating a Low-Carbon Transition

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The purpose of this article is to elaborate the ways in which social and cultural context can act as barriers to change in cities and regions that rely heavily on carbon-intensive industries, and to consider how factors such as pride in productivity and innovation may be redeployed to facilitate low-carbon transitions in carbon-intensive regions. These issues are assessed through the case of Tomakomai City in Hokkaido, Japan, with particular focus on how the city government has used carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology as a symbol of how industries might adapt and evolve to meet the challenge of climate change.


Tomakomai City illustrates that carbon-intensive industries such as petrochemicals and paper manufacturing can come to be integral to citizens’ sense of place. As such, the presence of favourable economic conditions and available resources, whilst certainly helpful, may be just one factor influencing the likelihood of a managed low-carbon transition taking root in a city or region which has deep connections to industries associated with high emissions. Finding ways to rigorously and systematically assess the socio-cultural landscape is hence an important part of understanding how low-carbon innovations can best be framed to get broad-based buy-in in carbon-intensive contexts such as Tomakomai.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalRegions Magazine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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