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Unpublished Paper
Localizing Climate Change Action
ExpressO (2012)
  • Marianne Dellinger

Localizing Climate Change Action - abstract

Myanna Dellinger

Waiting for national- or supranational-level actors to take substantively effective action against climate change is like waiting for Godot: unlikely to happen, at least at a substantively early enough point in time. The December 2012 negotiations under the UNFCCC umbrella yet again demonstrated the failure of action at the international level. This article adds new value to existing scholarship by conducting original research into select climate initiatives at the subnational, substate level in order to find out whether it is worth pursuing climate change action at this level instead. The article posits that in times with little or severely delayed climate change action by national and supranational actors, it is worth pursuing climate change action at the local - but not the purely private – level.

After identifying what “success” means in the climate change arena, the article analyzes the potential for both substantive and procedural success presented by select local initiatives. Some of these feature traditional adversarial enforcement methods, some modern collaborative-style enforcement, some no enforcement at all, and one is a reporting program with mandatory implications. The article demonstrates how action at the scaled-down level can be effective whether traditional adversarial or more collaborative goal enforcement methods are applied, and perhaps even if no enforcement methods are applied at all.

The article builds on the author’s parallel project, An Unstoppable Tide: Creating Environmental and Human Rights Law from the Bottom Up. This analyzed bottom-up, polycentric developments within national and international environmental and human rights law in general. It argued that bottom-up, polycentric action presents viable alternatives to traditional top-down action within these areas. It presented a set of guidelines for the development and enforcement of law in that applies to action within climate change as well and thus to the enclosed article (16,000 words).

  • Climate change,
  • NGOs,
  • local climate change action,
  • polycentric action,
  • bottom-up law,
  • substate,
  • subnational,
  • supranational,
  • international environmental law
Publication Date
December 28, 2012
Citation Information
Marianne Dellinger. "Localizing Climate Change Action" ExpressO (2012)
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