Anxieties over the potential impacts of climate change, often framed in apocalyptic language, are having a profound, but little studied effect on the contemporary Western urbanscape. This article examines the ways in which current theorizations of ‘ecological gentrification’ express only half the process, describing how green space is used for social control, but not how ecology is used as a justification regime for such projects. As urbanites seek out housing and living practices that have a lower environmental impact, urban planners have responded by providing large‐scale regeneration of the urbanscape. With the demand for this housing increasing, questions of inequality, displacement and dispossession arise. I ask whether apocalyptic anxiety is being enrolled in the justification regimes of these projects to make them hard to resist at the planning and implementation stages. The article shows that, in capitalizing on collective anxiety surrounding an apocalyptic future, these projects depoliticize subjects by using the empty signifier, ‘Sustainability’, leading them into an immuno‐political relationship to the urbanscape. This leaves subjects feeling protected from both responsibility for, and the impacts of, climate change. Ultimately, this has the consequence of gentrification coupled with potentially worsening consumptive practices, rebound effects and the depoliticization of the environmentally conscious urbanite.
Earl T. Harper
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