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Devon Cantwell

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Solutions for Some or For All? Environmental Ethics in City Sustainable Development

-Devon Cantwell

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Devon Cantwell (she/her/hers) is a MSc student at the University of Utah in the Department of Political Science. She will be entering the PhD in Political Studies program at the University of Ottawa in fall 2021. Devon’s research studies how cities globally enact climate mitigation and adaptation plans, with a specific focus on the multi-level relations of city climate action planning as well as the ethical implications of city climate actions. Her research focuses on case studies of the adaptation and mitigation strategies of four global mega-cities: Ho Chi Minh City, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Seoul. Devon uses a broad range of methods in her research including interviews, ethnography, spatial ethnography, GIS analysis, archival research, policy document analysis, as well as quantitative analysis.  
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Scholarship on city climate change governance typically focuses on questions of design, efficacy, and implementation using a strongly policy-oriented frame of analysis. While this analysis is useful in considering the impacts of adaptation and mitigation efforts in the global effort in curbing the most severe impacts of climate change, there is a need for more critical scholarship in this area. While cities may discuss a holistic picture of environmental justice in regard to marginalized populations, planning and implementation efforts by cities often these very people in practice. Using empirical data collected, this paper discusses the ethics of climate action planning in four cities—Buenos Aires, Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul, and Mexico City. This paper finds that while all four of these cities consider the disproportionate effects posed by climate change, the enactment and enforcement of these plans may actually perpetuate more harm than good.