The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 12, Number 1, 2013

ISSN 1602-2297


A Municipal ‘Climate Revolution’?
The Shaping of
Municipal Climate Change Policies


Jens Hoff
Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Correspondence author jh@ifs.ku.dk

Bjarne W. Strobel
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Abstract: Two research questions structure this article: 1) what climate change policies have been formulated by Danish municipalities? and 2) why is there such a huge variation in the scope and ambition of these policies? In answering the first question it is demonstrated that climate change action plans have been developed and integrated into many Danish local governments' plans as a result of climate change policies. In all 72% of all municipalities have some kind of climate change action plan, and 28% do not. We also find a large variation in goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions in the municipalities as a geographical unit, which varies from 0.9% to 5.9% annually with a mean value of 2.5% per year. In explaining this variation two strategies are adopted: one is looking at the importance of structural factors, the other is looking at actor-level factors. Concerning structural factors it is found that both the size of the municipality as well as the incorporation of climate change policies in municipal administration matter as bigger municipalities and municipalities with good integration of policies are more ambitious than others. Party politics is not found to be important as municipalities with ‘left wing’ Mayors are not found to be more ambitious in their climate change policies than municipalities with ‘right wing’ Mayors. Concerning actor-level factors we find that the most important actors in local climate change politics are the climate change personnel. Lacking guidance from national government they are inspired by two other groups of actors in formulating local climate change policies. These are groups of citizens more or less well organized in ‘green’ organizations or projects, and national or international climate networks. While collaborating with the first groups creates variation, collaborating with the networks produces uniformity in some areas of municipal climate change policies.

Key words: climate change, CO2-reduction, Denmark, municipalities

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