The realisation of, and limits to, alternative financial logics in urban renewable energy

Miss Paris Hadfield1

1University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia


This paper asks whether and how non-capitalist financial logics emerge in the scaling up of renewable energy in cities to explore the heterogeneity of financialisation in sustainability transitions. Financialisation logics constitute a semi-coherent, rather than totalising, regime of actors and practices that help explain temporal tendencies, including preferences for short-term profits versus ‘patient’ long-term revenue stability, and future speculation; spatial tendencies, including the direction of investment towards certain technologies or locations; and scalar connections, where capital flows connect local actors, assets and markets to global investors. Counter-hegemonic financial innovations pursuing socially responsible modes of finance nevertheless coexist. Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC), a community group investing in renewable energy facilities in Bristol, England, provides an example. However, by leveraging debt finance alongside traditional crowdfunding to expand more quickly, BEC is enrolled in new risk relations and financial obligations. While the cooperative and its partners enact alternative practices of flexible lending and local redistribution of profits for non-revenue-generating activities, dominant financial standards and expectations persist and condition BEC’s investment decisions, as well as the distributional benefits of its developments. These findings demonstrate both the contingency and strength of financialisation logics and the uncertain role of local intermediaries in driving ‘just’ sustainability transitions.


Paris Hadfield is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. Her research is funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living and focuses on renewable energy financing in cities. Paris considers whether and how novel financial mechanisms scale up renewable energy development, and the social equity and governance implications of these approaches. Paris has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and her email address is

‘Broccoli Bonds’, Composting and Urban Food

Dr Gradon Diprose1, Dr Kelly Dombroski2

1Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Wellington, New Zealand,

2University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


In November 2017, the Christchurch based urban farm and social enterprise Cultivate, raised $165,127 via Pledgeme to expand their composting programme. Cultivate convert vacant urban space into farms, employing youth interns to collect green waste and composting it to create the soil for the farms, and then growing food which is sold back to local customers. Cultivate needed capital for plant and machinery to increase the volume of waste they could compost – focusing specifically on compostable packaging (PLA). Rather than a standard return on investment, Cultivate called the pledge ‘Broccoli Bonds’ which set out a variety of ways investors could get realise their return (through food, compost, gardening assistance, and cash). While supporters and investors appeared to love the idea, Cultivate was unable to implement the composting project for various compliance and logistical reasons. The example highlights the challenges organisations face when attempting to transform urban practices around food and waste. However, it also illustrates the desire people and communities have for investing in alternative forms of enterprise that return more than just money.


Gradon Diprose is an Environmental Social Science Researcher at Manaaki Whenua Landcare research in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. He is currently involved in research that explores transformative environmental and community initiatives.

The construction of green bond markets

Dr Ryan Jones1, Dr Tom Baker1, Prof Laurence Murphy1

1University of Auckland


In a short amount of time, green bonds have become a preferred solution to inter-locking challenges of environmental sustainability, social cohesion and economic growth. Tagged to projects with expected environmental benefits, green bonds are issued to raise a fixed amount of capital and are repaid with interest over a set period of time. Recent estimates have claimed green bonds will grow rapidly, underpinning a multi-trillion dollar market, and in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the intellectual and economic infrastructure to support market growth is being actively constructed. Yet little is known about the practices and agendas implicated in the construction of green bond markets. This presentation outlines the ascendance of green bond markets and discusses a series of theoretical and empirical entry points for critical analysis.


Ryan Jones is a Research Fellow in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland.

Tom Baker is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland

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