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Freiburger Geographische Hefte, Vol. 71

Fabian Sennekamp (2013): Kommunaler Klimaschutz zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit - Eine akteurszentrierte Analyse anhand des Fallbeispiels Freiburg im Breisgau


In various municipalities, effective measures for climate change mitigation have already been implemented even though they are not mandatory and funds are limited. This work addresses the following questions:

  • Which actors initiate climate change mitigation measures?
  • Which contributions are made by both state and non-state actors?
  • How flexible are German municipalities in their actions regarding climate change mitigation?
  • Which factors influence and determine the development?
  • Why are front-runner municipalities particularly successful?
  • How can this success be measured?

This work strives to find universal commonalities on climate change mitigation irrespective of local conditions. For this purpose, a theoretical analytical framework was designed to explain how climate change mitigation is governed. State as well as non-state actors cooperate in networks in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are defined as urban governance. This does not allow them to act independently, but they are influenced by general frameworks on a higher level, with implications for governance (multi-level governance).

For German municipalities, the scope of action in climate change mitigation is interpreted through a role model that is applicable for every municipality. Development and progress in local climate change mitigation get analysed in accordance with front-runner cities which have much experience in this field. In order to make general assumptions about successful local climate change mitigation, evaluation standards are drawn from competitions investigating German, Swedish and European municipalities in general.

As a representative case for all front-runner cities, a case study of the German “Federal Capital of Climate Protection” Freiburg will answer the central questions of this work. Its main focus will be on guideline-based interviews with local experts who were consulted on the development of climate change mitigation, the cooperation of different actors involved, and the influence of the regulatory framework. A policy network analysis identifies the essential actors involved in the governance of climate change mitigation.

In Freiburg, non-state actors could be identified as pioneers. Elsewhere, state actors put climate change mitigation on the agenda according to conducted studies. The pioneers have in common their commitment and a readiness to assume risks, which is not only needed in the pioneer stage in order to turn climate change mitigation into a success story that can prosper. Despite certain restrictions, German municipalities have a relatively wide scope of actions to implement climate change mitigation measures. This is facilitated during windows of opportunity.

Another result of the analysis is emphasizing the significance of particular individuals, some of which have been active in climate change mitigation since its beginnings. Today, their involvement in the issue is not only an honorary but often a professional activity.
An important factor for progress in climate change mitigation is the cooperation of the different actors, who are highly specialised in Freiburg. They work project-oriented in non-institutionalised and usually informal networks. The interviewees stressed that their main purpose is the mutual exchange of knowledge. This way, they can quickly adapt to the different requirements. Different speeds are apparent in the different sectors, e.g. in the energy and traffic sector. Furthermore, setbacks cannot be eliminated.

The case study as well as an analysis of the municipal contests served as role models for evaluation measures for local climate change mitigation. It is necessary to take into account the range of CO2 emissions, while a single indicator cannot display the complex reality. Therefore, the contests always draw on a whole set of indicators - despite the lack of a universal standard. This should contain not only quantitative, but also qualitative indicators, because not every aspect is measureable. For example, so far the contests have not sufficiently taken into account citizen engagement.