Urban Commons and Collective Action to Address Climate Change

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 13 December 2021

Urban Commons and Collective Action to Address Climate Change


  • Johan Colding Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, University of Gävle, Sweden / The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden
  • Stephan Barthel Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, University of Gävle, Sweden / Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • Robert Ljung Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, University of Gävle, Sweden / Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise, Sweden
  • Felix Eriksson Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, University of Gävle, Sweden
  • Stefan Sjöberg Department of Social Work and Criminology, University of Gävle, Sweden


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 239 | Downloads: 144


Abstract:  Climate change and the coupled loss of ecosystem services pose major collective action problems in that all individuals would benefit from better cooperation to address these problems but conflicting interests and/or incomplete knowledge discourage joint action. Adopting an inductive and multi‐layered approach, drawing upon the authors’ previous research on urban commons, we here summarize key insights on environmentally oriented urban commons and elaborate on what role they have in instigating climate‐proofing activities in urban areas. We deal with three types of urban commons, i.e., “urban green commons,” “coworking spaces,” and “community climate commons.” We describe how allotment gardens, community gardens, and other types of urban green commons contribute to environmental learning that may boost understanding of environmental issues and which constitute important learning arenas for climate‐change mitigation and adaptation. We also deal with the newly emerging phenomenon of coworking spaces that share many essential institutional attributes of urban commons and which can work for climate‐change mitigation through the benefits provided by a sharing economy and through reduction of domestic transportation and commuting distance. Community climate commons represent commons where local communities can mobilize together to create shared low‐carbon assets and which hold the potential to empower certain segments and civil society groups so that they can have greater influence and ownership of the transformation of reaching net‐zero carbon goals. We conclude this article by identifying some critical determinants for the up‐scaling of environmentally oriented urban commons.

Keywords:  civic society; climate change; collective action; community climate commons; coworking spaces; mobilization; urban commons; urban green commons

Published:   Ahead of Print


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v10i1.4862


© Johan Colding, Stephan Barthel, Robert Ljung, Felix Eriksson, Stefan Sjöberg. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.