Multilevel governance and urban climate change mitigation

Taedong Lee, Chris Koski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Cities worldwide have taken the lead in addressing climate change; however, this does not tell the full story in understanding the puzzle of local climate action. Rather than in isolation, city actions occur in the context of a complex of other government arrangements. Whereas the majority of the literature concerning subnational responses to climate change in the US is addressed in the literatures of federalism and diffusion, we offer an explanation of climate actions through a multilevel governance approach. Multilevel governance allows us to consider the horizontal city-to-city influences on climate action while also considering the vertical influences of state-to-local action. We conduct a large quantitative study of climate actions in all US cities with populations greater than 50,000 people. We find that cities' and states' climate action efforts are complementary, rather than attenuating; however, we note that horizontal influences are generally stronger than vertical influences in motivating climate action at the local level. We conclude that, in spite of the potential for an increased role of federal and state governments in climate action in the United States, city-to-city networks are likely to remain important in motivating cities to mitigate climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1501-1517
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2015.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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