• Climate Change and City Hall
  • Volume 15 Number 1
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

The Motivations Behind Municipal Climate Engagement: An Empirical Assessment of How Local Objectives Shape the Production of a Public Good

Rachel M. Krause, University of Texas at El Paso


Cities engage in greenhouse gas mitigation efforts because of some combination of desires to achieve local co-benefits, respond to the preferences and pressures of influential political actors, and contribute to the public good by minimizing climate change. The relative importance of each motivation is hypothesized to affect the composition and comprehensiveness of subsequent climate initiatives. In some cities, initiatives appear to be ad hoc collections of tangentially related actions, whereas in others they are the result of a strategic planning process. This article uses survey-based data collected from U.S. cities that are explicitly involved in climate change-mitigation efforts and empirically examines two related questions: (1) What are the primary objectives and considerations that motivated these cities to engage in climate-change mitigation? (2) How do these considerations shape the relevant planning activities they undertake? Cities consistently point to cost savings as the primary rationale behind their initial decision to engage. When controlling for other relevant characteristics, however, a stronger direct concern about global climate change, as opposed to achieving financial savings or other co-benefits, is shown to be associated with the implementation of a more comprehensive climate-planning process.

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