Suburban Climate Change Efforts: Possibilities for Small and Nimble Cities Participating in State, Regional, National, and International Networks
22 Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 35 (2012)
70 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2012 Last revised: 17 Jul 2013
Date Written: 2012
This Article provides a novel analysis of the capacity of suburbs to play a constructive role in addressing climate change. Small suburban cities represent the majority of metropolitan populations and emissions; encouraging their mitigation efforts, in addition to those of large center cities, is critical. In contrast to the conventional critique of suburbs as an undifferentiated group of sprawling emitters, the Article analyzes pathways for different types of small, nimble, suburban governments to learn from other localities and find cost-effective approaches to reducing emissions. It intertwines scholarship on (1) cities, suburbs, and climate change, (2) the complex demography of suburbs, (3) the role of climate change networks in transnational governance, and (4) more inclusive multi-level climate change governance to describe the limits of the current discourse on suburbs and climate change and to propose a new model for encouraging more suburban action.
Using the Twin Cities metropolitan region as an initial case example, the Article considers what steps different types of leader suburbs are taking and how they are participating in voluntary multi-level climate change and sustainability networks. It argues that, especially in the absence of top-down mandates requiring cities to mitigate their emissions, these voluntary networks play an important role in fostering local action and connecting that action to international climate change treaties. The Article proposes that these networks could have a greater impact, however, through strategies that reflect the differences among types of suburban cities and foster more cross-network interaction.
Keywords: cities, suburbs, climate change, local climate change, urban climate change, suburban climate change, multi-level governance, climate change, UNFCCC, networks, Minnesota, Twin Cities, region, metroregional governance, metropolitan, climate change governance
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