Multilevel Environmental Governance
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Multilevel Environmental Governance

Managing Water and Climate Change in Europe and North America

Edited by Inger Weibust and James Meadowcroft

The literature on Multi-level governance (MLG), an approach that explicitly looks at the system of the many interacting authority structures at work in the global political economy, has grown significantly over the last decade. The authors in this volume examine how multilevel governance (MLG) systems address climate change and water policy.
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Chapter 6: Climate governance in the European Union multilevel system: the role of cities

Kristine Kern


Today it is widely acknowledged that cities have become important players in governing climate change in the European Union (EU). Since climate change is a complex problem that requires action at local and regional levels, the success of EU climate change policy depends ultimately on subnational authorities. As an increasing number of citizens live in cities, a high proportion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are generated at the local level. Thus many European cities started climate mitigation initiatives to reduce their GHG emissions as early as the 1990s. Despite these efforts, the effects of climate change have become noticeable at the local level and have triggered the development of local climate adaptation strategies. However cities are not only sites where climate change causes severe risks to natural and social systems; they are also the places where the social and technological innovations that help to cope with the new challenges are generated. Many European cities have set GHG emission targets, measure and report their emissions annually, have completed risk assessments, developed adaptation plans and have extended their reach with voluntary agreements (Carbon Disclosure Project, 2012). As European cities are strongly affected by EU climate change policy, this chapter concentrates on climate governance in the EU multilevel system. It is assumed that the implementation of EU climate change policy at local level changes local policies and, vice versa, local climate governance influences the development of EU climate policy.

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