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Shaping local climate policies – a review of experience

Increasingly, local governments are adopting policy, programmes and measures to address climate change issues. However, progress varies significantly across cities (or even between different policy fields within one city). Climate policy researchers and activists stress that, in many cases, there is a persistent gap between policy discourse centred on the relevance of local action on climate change and political reality.

The purpose of this paper, Shaping local climate policies – a review of experience, is precisely to address this issue by analysing those factors and conditions that shape local climate policies in developing countries. Based on a review of the literature on climate change and urban policy, as well as on the preliminary findings of our research project supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) on climate politics in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico; and the Municipality of São Paulo, Brazil, we identify three sets of conditions as critical for explaining the development of local climate policy: government capacity, problem framing and political factors.

This paper reviews the conditions that shape the climate policies of cities in developing countries. It argues that a city needs the following in order to advance climate compatible development effectively:

  • local government capacity including legal competence, appropriate human resources, access to funding and resources and technical expertise and information;
  • problem framing including commitment and engagement and a strong case for action
  • political factors and actors, including a local leader, ‘political entrepreneur’ or champion.