The Urban Climate Challenge: Rethinking the Role of Cities in the Global Climate Regime, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Urban Climate Challenge

Rethinking the Role of Cities in the Global Climate Regime, 1st Edition

Edited by Craig Johnson, Noah Toly, Heike Schroeder


258 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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Drawing upon a variety of empirical and theoretical perspectives, The Urban Climate Challengeprovides a hands-on perspective about the political and technical challenges now facing cities and transnational urban networks in the global climate regime. Bringing together experts working in the fields of global environmental governance, urban sustainability and climate change, this volume explores the ways in which cities, transnational urban networks and global policy institutions are repositioning themselves in relation to this changing global policy environment.

Focusing on both Northern and Southern experience across the globe, three questions that have strong bearing on the ways in which we understand and assess the changing relationship between cities and global climate system are examined.

  • How are cities repositioning themselves in relation to the global climate regime?
  • How are cities being repositioned – conceptually and epistemologically?
  • Whatare the prospects for crafting policies that can reduce the urban carbon footprint while at the same time building resilience to future climate change?

The Urban Climate Challengewill be of interest to scholars of urban climate policy, global environmental governance and climate change. It will be of interest to readers more generally interested in the ways in which cities are now addressing the inter-related challenges of sustainable urban growth and global climate change.

Chapter 9 and Chapter 11 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license.


"This volume takes readers on a comprehensive tour through the world of urban carbon governance research and is sure to set the agenda for a new generation of cities and climate change researchers."Michele M. Betsill, Colorado State University

"If dangerous climate change is to be avoided, we need both adaptation and mitigation to be incorporated into urban investments, policies and planning everywhere. This needs strong engagement with local stakeholders (especially those most at risk) and strong support from national governments and global climate governance regimes. This book provides a valuable contribution to how this can be done and where responsibilities for this lie." —David Satterthwaite, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

"After an overall assessment the book discusses the current state of climate policy around the world, which helps the readers put into context their own experiences, and helps to avoid administrative and political mistakes or failures (including never-realised plans and disintegrated institutional systems) already explained in the literature. The diversity of the displayed cities helps to understand both the different and common challenges they are facing with. This makes it a useful reading for scholars from Central and Eastern Europe despite the fact that no European example is discussed in the volume. The book will be of interest to scholars and practitioners of urban climate policy, global environmental governance and climate change. Adaptation, mitigation and sustainability issues are present in the urban climate change literature. This volume puts them in a diff erent context and shows these topics from a political and social science perspective, in the practical chapters using mostly the interview method. I found it interesting to see, how the results of science can, or in some cases cannot, get incorporated into the decision-making processes."

Ildikó Pieczka, Hungarian Geographical Bulletin

Table of Contents

Selected Contents: Part 1: Governing the Urban Climate Challenge: Understanding the Role of Cities in the Global Climate Regime 1. Introduction: Urban Resilience, Low Carbon Governance and the Global Climate RegimeCraig Johnson, Noah Toly, and Heike Schroeder 2. Bringing Cities into the Global Climate FrameworkSaskia Sassen3. Closed Cycles - Open CityKatleen De Flander Part 2: Going Global? The Changing Face of Urban Climate Governance 4. If Cities are the Solution, What are the Problems? The Promise and Perils of Urban Climate Leadership David Gordon and Michele Acuto5. Multinational Companies and Urban Climate Governance: Market Making or Successful Policy Innovation? Sofie Bouteligier Part 3: Domestic Policy Responses: Integrating Mitigation and Adaptation into Urban Climate Governance 6. Combining Local and Transnational Action in the Adoption and Implementation of Climate Policies in the City of São PauloJoana Setzer, Laura Valente de Macedo, and Fernando Rei7. Urban Climate Governance Through a Sustainability Lens: Exploring the Integration of Adaptation and Mitigation in Four British Columbian CitiesSarah Burch, Alison Shaw, Freya Kristensen, John Robinson, and Ann Dale 8. Climate Change Adaptation in Mumbai, IndiaEmily Boyd, Aditya Ghosh, Maxwell T. Boykoff 9. Relational Agency and the Local Governance of Climate Change:A Case Study of Portland, OregonAlex Aylett Part 4: Regional Policy Perspectives: Comparing Policies and Outcomes across Regional Policy Regimes 10. Multilevel Governance and Institutional Capacity for Climate Change Responses in Latin American CitiesPatricia Romero-Lankao, Geogelina Hardoy, Sara Hughes, Daniel Gnatz, AngelicaRosas-Huerta, and Roxana Borquez 11. Climate Change Adaptation and African Cities: Understanding the Impact of Government and Governance on Future ActionChristopher Gore Part 5: Governing the Urban Climate Challenge: New Directions in Theory, Policy and Research 12. Conclusion: Governing the Urban Climate ChallengeCraig Johnson, Noah Toly, Heike Schroeder

About the Editors

Craig Johnson is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Development Studies at the University of Guelph in Canada. His research focuses on questions of land and resource governance in the context of urbanization, globalization and climate change.

Noah Toly is Director of Urban Studies and Associate Professor of Politics & International Relations at Wheaton College in the United States (IL). His research and teaching interests are at the intersections of urban and global environmental governance, with particular interests in the participation of cities as sites and municipalities as actors in climate governance regimes.

Heike Schroeder is a senior lecturer in climate change and international development at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia. Her areas of work include global environmental politics, urban climate governance, the role of non-state actors in international cooperation on climate change and forest governance.

About the Series

Cities and Global Governance

Scholarly concern over the role of cities as sites for global governance and the organization of global activities has increased substantially over the past 25 years. The partial denationalization of global politics has been accompanied by the increasing importance of non-state and sub-national state actors, including municipal governments. It has further resulted in the rising significance of cities as sites in and for global governance. Cities serve as platforms for scale-jumping—the movement of organizations and issues across scalar boundaries—locales for networking, and sites for the convergence of disparate global ideologies. Global actors, by concentrating in cities, take advantage of propinquity and the dense networks available in the urban landscape to organize their activities, and in doing so, also establish certain cities as "nodes" in their global networks. At the same time, global ideologies are expressed in urban landscapes and global politics takes concrete form in cities.

Because of these developments, scholars of global affairs have expressed increasing interest in the presence and influence of the city in global governance. This series will feature unique perspectives on theoretical and empirical issues in the relationship between cities and global governance. The series will serve as a platform to theorize previously undertheorized aspects of the relationship, to challenge conventional wisdom in the field, and to offer new empirical analysis of the role of cities as sites and actors in global governance as well as the role of global governance on the ground in cities. Each volume will make a distinct contribution to one or more of these questions. Volumes may take various conceptual and methodological approaches. Some will study cases, others will examine networks; some will have a regional focus, others will have a global focus; some will be focused on cities as they intersect with particular issues in global governance.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • African, Asian, and/or Latin American cities in networks of global governance
  • Case studies of the roles of various cities in global governance
  • Cities and climate change
  • Cities and disaster governance
  • Cities and global environmental governance
  • Cities as sites of emergent conflicts between governance regimes
  • Cities, security, and global governance
  • Global cities/capital cities: Urbanism and the apparatus of state-based governance
  • Municipal foreign policy
  • "Power" and "the urban" in global governance
  • The role of data collection and "city indicators" in global governance
  • The role of transnational actors in shaping local landscapes
  • "Super-global" cities
  • Transnational municipal networks in global governance
  • The urbanization of global politics

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy