Climate Governance Towards Low-Carbon and Climate-Resilient Cities

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Jihyea Kim, Seoul National University Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Seoul, South Korea
Background: With the stalling of state-centered global climate change negotiations and the increasing recognition of the urgent need to deal with the irreversible risks of climate change, cities have begun to shift from relying on centralized government climate change models to creating decentralized city-specific climate governance processes to confront climate change. These forms of climate governance involve not only the local government but also local experts, multi-stakeholders and independent citizens who cooperate through diverse levels of decision making to create local climate change action plans. This study analyzes this transition and proposes best practices of climate governance in the cases of New York, Chicago and Seoul- three thriving metropolitan centers that have transitioned to more low-carbon and climate-resilient city structures. Methodological Framework: This study uses climate change reports, literature reviews and interviews to analyze each city using four components of climate governance: governance structure, funding sources, supporting modalities, and implementation mechanisms. Governance structure focuses on the role of the local/national government, non-governmental actors, city government organizations committed to climate change and citizen participation. Funding sources include the role of local/national government funds, community funds, and supporting foundations. Supporting modalities consist of scientific expert groups and networks between cities. Implementation mechanisms are analyzed through implementation policy tools and regular evaluation processes. Results: New York City's best practices: 1) governance structure- mayor's leadership and expert task forces, significant interaction with businesses and citizens; 2) implementation mechanisms- specific working groups, regular progress reports.  City of Chicago's best practices: 1) funding sources- main sources are local/national foundations and private sector investments, funds are managed by a finance committee; 2) supporting modalities- expert groups (CCTF, CMAP), strong networks (Clinton Climate Initiative, ICLEI, U.S. Conference of Mayors). Seoul City's best practices: 1) governance structure- mayor’s leadership and expert task forces, success of the One Less Nuclear Power Plant Policy; 2) supporting modalities- voluntary citizen participation, city networks (C40, ICLEI), high level of information transparency. Conclusion: Among the innovations in policy, governance and technology in the three cities, this study identifies the best practices as being strong political leadership, cooperative partnership with non-government sectors, epistemic groups and concrete implementation strategies with funding mechanisms. These best practices serve as guidelines for other cities in the process of building climate governance, which will enable all cities in the world to effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change.