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Governing the transition to natural gas in Mediteranean Metropolis: The case of Cairo, Istanbul and Sfax (Tunisia)

Abstract : Considers the governance of natural gas networks in emerging cities. Adopts a geographical approach looking at interactions between natural gas infrastructure and urban space. Switch to natural gas linked to financial purpose (subsidy cuts) more than concern for climate change. Switch to natural gas shaped by policies governing other urban energy forms. Urban politics and issues of affordability impact the governance of natural gas transition. a b s t r a c t Recent scholarship on urban energy governance has focused on low carbon energy strategies seen as a response to climate change and energy pressure threats. But such approaches tend to overlook the situations of cities from the Global South and emerging countries concerned with strong energy demand growth. The development of urban natural gas networks is an understudied response to such a challenge. Focusing on three cities, Istanbul, Cairo and Sfax (Tunisia), the article analyses the factors and the governance of these energy transitions. It uses a geographical approach to such processes that highlight the mutual influence of the territory in its material and political dimensions and of the policy goals and tools in the implementation. The development of urban gas networks rests upon the proximity of gas deposits. It is determined by metropolitan strategies for economic development as well as by programs aiming to cut energy subsidies. Though urban gas networks have a strong potential for restructuring the physical and social landscapes in cities, the dominant commercial approach taken by energy utilities and morphological constraints in the urban fabric limit their universalization. Natural gas is part of a mix of energies at the urban level and often competes with other energy forms, specifically renewables (like solar water heaters). Lastly, the development of urban natural gas networks sparks heated politics in relation to unfulfilled energy demand and affordability.
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Éric Verdeil, Elvan Arik, Hugo Bolzon, Jimmy Markoum. Governing the transition to natural gas in Mediteranean Metropolis: The case of Cairo, Istanbul and Sfax (Tunisia). Energy Policy, Elsevier, 2015, Special Section: Urban energy governance: local actions, capacities and politics, 78 (3), pp.235-245. ⟨10.1016/j.enpol.2014.11.003⟩. ⟨halshs-01114136⟩