The threat of global climate change is one of the most significant scientific and political challenges of our time. For more than a decade, members of the international community have debated the need for action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the relative responsibilities of different countries, and the means through which action could, or should, be taken. Given the global nature of the problem, these debates have largely taken place in the context of international treaty negotiations (the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention and its 1997 Kyoto Protocol). However, as is becoming increasingly clear, climate change is also a profoundly local issue. Because greenhouse gas emissions originate from processes that are embedded in specific places, nation-states will be unable to meet their international commitments for addressing climate change without local action. Many local governments have considerable authority over land-use planning and waste management and can play an important role in addressing transportation issues and energy consumption. Moreover, local governments do not just respond to predefined policy goals set within national and international arenas; in many cases they are taking the lead in
Perspectives on Climate Change: Science, Economics, Politics, Ethics Advances in the Economics of Environmental Resources, Volume 5, 189-213 Copyright © 2005 by Elsevier Ltd. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1569-3740/doi:10.1016/S1569-3740(05)05009-1
developing innovative policies and programs to control greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, local governments represent an important site for the governance of global environmental issues in their own right.
In this chapter, we analyze the capacity of local governments to enact climate protection policies and control their greenhouse gas emissions. We begin by considering the role of cities in the governance of global environmental issues, such as climate change. We then introduce the "Cities for Climate Protection'' (CCP) program, a transnational network of local governments seeking to mitigate the threat of global warming. Drawing on the experience of six local governments engaged in the CCP network, we analyze the opportunities and constraints that have been encountered as climate protection policy has been put into practice in the areas of land-use planning, transport, and energy management in Newcastle, Cambridgeshire, and Leicester in the United Kingdom; Denver and Milwaukee in the United States; and Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.1 We find that the process of translating a rhetorical commitment to climate protection into policies and programs for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in specific sectors is far from straightforward and varies with the particular powers of local government and the conflicts of interest encountered. Based on our case studies, we identify five factors that shape the implementation of climate protection policies: (1) the presence of a committed individual with institutional support for promoting climate protection; (2) the availability of funding for climate protection measures; (3) the extent of local powers over transport, energy, and planning; (4) the way climate protection is framed, particularly in relation to economic objectives; and (5) the political will to act. Finally, we consider the implications of these findings for understanding global environmental governance.
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