Urban Climate Policy

Urban climate policy, particularly in the energy and transport sectors, is dominated by men and male perspectives; participation and representation of other genders is generally low. The capacity to reduce emissions differs amongst genders, as do their perceptions, preferences, and behavior. Moreover, climate policies affect different genders differently, and their needs and interests also differ. For instance, women are often responsible for care and informal economy work and for the provision of food and water for their families, and therefore depend on local markets and other essential infrastructure. Furthermore, women are likely to prefer low-risk technologies, such as renewable energy, rather than nuclear energy. Although it is widely accepted that women, trans, and non-binary people are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, it must be stated that they are also affected by policies which respond to climate change. Thus any policy responding to climate change must also take gender into account. It is important to keep in mind, however, that gender is not a homogenous category but one factor that influences vulnerability, and people of all genders are differently affected based on race, ethnicity, social community and status, household composition, marital status, ability, age, and other factors. Thus any approach to climate policy should not only take gender into account, but also other, intersecting factors that drive inequality and increase vulnerability. 

Climate policy can also yield co-benefits such as improved air quality and health, job creation, livability of cities, enhanced mobility and resilience. Many of these co-benefits can be achieved only if social and gender dimensions are comprehensively taken into account. Climate policies and measures should not only look to short-term mitigation but rather consist of long-term, sustainable approaches to a low-carbon, equitable, inclusive future. In order to do so, climate policy must: 

  • Involve all genders equally in decision making and implantation at city and community levels and take into account their differing needs and capacities
  • Recognize and respond to the specific needs of the care economy and the informal economy
  • Prioritize resilience amongst communities and neighbourhoods
  • Adopt a pro-poor approach in addressing both poverty and affluence in terms of housing, energy, mobility, and consumption, and address multiple and intersecting forms of oppression
  • Combine clean air policy, air and noise pollution reduction, and reallocation of public space to ensure cities are livable

Such interventions will necessarily cover almost all sectors. Thus a multi-dimensional approach that incorporates gender into all considerations, rather than adding it on separately, is key.