Two thirds of the world’s population – 6 .3 billion people – a re projected to live in urban areas by 2050. Already now, cities significantly contribute to climate change and at the same time face particular consequences that result from it. As the cities that will house this booming urban population are yet to be built in the next few decades, there is an unprecedented opportunity to respond to climate change through urban transformation.
Research shows that cities can make a significant contribution towards keeping climate change below 2° C. A substantial portion of government man- dates – including tasks related to climate mitigation and adaptation, such as waste management, water and sanitation, transport and electricity service delivery – lies in the hands of local governments around the world. However, despite proactive climate initiatives by local governments, current local climate action remains far below its potential. Against this background, recent years have seen active discussion on effective frameworks for multi-level climate governance and coordinated action to help cities in the full realisation of local climate mitigation and adaptation potentials to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The concept of multi-level climate governance assumes that a country’s different levels of government are mutually dependent when it comes to implementing the Paris Agreement. In fact, the decision on the adoption of the Paris Agreement encourages national governments to work more closely with non-Party stakeholders, which include subnational governments. Concretely, national governments partly rely on regional and local governments to implement national climate strategies geared towards narrowing the emissions gap and to adapting to climate change. Conversely, local and regional governments are affected by the legal, institutional and financial instruments and frameworks put in place by higher levels of government. Countries’ existing multi-level frameworks may support – or obstruct – local climate action.
Against this background, the present study explores the following question: How can different instruments for multi-level climate governance support the realisation of local climate mitigation and adaptation potentials?