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Sustainability transitions and policy dismantling: Zero carbon housing in the UK

O'Neill, Kirstie; Gibbs, David


Kirstie O'Neill


In this paper we examine the failure of the zero carbon homes agenda in the UK and argue that it represents a case of policy dismantling, where a range of policies and programmes have been introduced, revised and then removed by government. We bring together the sustainability transitions literature with the literature on policy dismantling, regime resistance and regime detractors, and suggest that the zero carbon housing agenda in the UK offers useful insights into the politics of sustainability transitions. We identify three phases of policy change, from policy expansion, symbolic dismantling and eventual active policy dismantling. In the conclusions we offer some suggestions on processes of policy dismantling and what this might mean for future sustainability transitions given the significant contributions of buildings to greenhouse gas emissions and the urgent need for rapid low carbon transitions.


O'Neill, K., & Gibbs, D. (2020). Sustainability transitions and policy dismantling: Zero carbon housing in the UK. Geoforum, 108, 119-129.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 18, 2019
Publication Date 2020-01
Deposit Date Nov 25, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 19, 2021
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 108
Pages 119-129
Public URL


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