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Moving to or from a carbon dependent countryside

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journal contribution
posted on 12.08.2019, 14:57 by Martin Phillips, Jennifer Dickie
Introduction “Within the revisiting of counterurbanisation … attention has been paid primarily to the types of people involved - counterurbanisation as practice - and their motivations for moving towards a more residential environment” (Halfacree, 2011: 210); “As the extensive literature on moving to a low-carbon society attests there are … many … ways of motivating people … to move to low carbon energy” (Caney, 2011: 549). This paper explores the two senses of the phrase ‘moving to’ referenced above, namely spatial movement as in-migration and changing state, or transition. Specifically, the paper explores, on the one hand, movements of people towards rural living - the counterurbanisation referred to by Halfacree and the daily movements or mobilities that emerge within this migration to rural living - and, on the other hand, movements from current forms of energy use towards low-carbon ways of living mentioned by Caney and which have come to exercise the minds and practices of many transport researchers and policy-makers due to connections between carbon use and global climate change (see Schwanen 2011; Banister et al. 2012). After highlighting the significance of these two senses of movement, it is argued that although often discussed in isolation they potentially lie in tension, in that the former might preclude, or at least hinder, achievement of the latter. Migration to the countryside may involve people moving to areas where they engage in higher levels of transport use, the majority of which will consume carbon-based fuels and emit carbon dioxide (CO2) and other ‘greenhouse gases’ that are widely seen to be creating global climate change. Drawing on work conducted as part of two major research programmes, entitled Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) and Bridging the Urban Rural Divide (BURD), the paper demonstrates the value of a post-carbon perspective within a mobilities influenced rural transport geography. It does this through exploring the extent to which peoples' everyday lives in the British countryside rely on carbon-fuelled mobilities and the degree to which there is both recognition of this and willingness to establish lower-carbon rural lifestyles. It is argued that whilst there is recognition and concern over levels of energy consumption, a series of ‘narratives to the self and others’ lead to little willingness to undertake actions to move away from this situation.


This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number RES-240-25-00250] and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Department of Science and Technology India (EPSRC grant number EP/J000361/1).



Journal of Transport Geography, 2018, 74, pp. 253-268

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/School of Geography, Geology and the Environment/Human Geography


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