Urban partnerships in low-carbon development: Opportunities and challenges of an emerging trend in global climate politics

Jan Beermann


This study explores the linkages between two recent trends in global climate governance. The first trend is the growing focus on cities in the multi-level governance of climate change. Whereas international climate change negotiations often end in deadlock, many urban centers across the world are taking the lead. Industrialized cities from the Global North and increasingly cities from the emerging Southern economies are experimenting with innovative and ambitious programs to reduce their local carbon footprints. A second trend is the expan¬ding urban North-South cooperation in the area of low-carbon development. This cooperation takes various forms, such as city twinning, transnational municipal networks and trans-local development cooperation. A key target of these initiatives is to develop joint projects and exchange knowledge to foster low-carbon development pathways. This study analyzes the conditions of success and failure in selected Indo-German urban low-carbon partnerships with a particular focus on institutional arrangements. The paper presents evidence from three initiatives and argues that successful trans-local cooperation depends largely on the interplay between institutional forms and the development of social capital. Building on these findings, the paper discusses what lessons may be drawn from the emergence of urban North-South cooperation for the future development of global climate governance.


Local climate governance; Knowledge transfer; North-South cooperation; Low-carbon development; Social capital

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