Most research on global environmental change focuses on the national level, but the increasingly significant role of cities worldwide in climate change governance necessitates a global-scale understanding of urban environmental change. This study explains how greenhouse gas emissions reduction in 330 cities across 48 countries is affected by diffusion of normative expertise and political-economic forces. Specifically, polycentric systems comprised of environmental management consultancies and environmental transnational municipal networks facilitate expertise transmission to cities, facilitating urban emissions reduction. This expertise is diffused globally in a normative process explicable by world society theory, but these polycentric systems bypass national governments in a direct global-to-local transmission of expertise. These findings advance world society theory beyond its traditional nation-state-centric purview by showing that new polycentric systems can also affect subnational environmental policy outcomes, linking micro-level and macro-level processes in global environmental change.
Toward Global Urban Climate Mitigation: Linking National and Polycentric Systems of Environmental Change
Benjamin Leffel is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. He studies local actors in global processes including climate change, development, and diplomacy, and earned his PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. He updates his work on his website benleffel.com and is active on Twitter as @BenjaminJLeffel.
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Benjamin Leffel; Toward Global Urban Climate Mitigation: Linking National and Polycentric Systems of Environmental Change. Sociology of Development 1 March 2022; 8 (1): 111–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sod.2021.0018
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