SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
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Abstract

As the United States and the world become increasingly urbanized, cities are a key site for addressing the problem of climate change. However, urban climate change action is not simply about local officials making decisions within their cities. In major U.S. urban areas, “local” involves multiple layers of government, including county and metroregional entities. Moreover, many of the cities taking action on climate change also participate in and shape networks of local governments based at state, regional, national, and international levels.

This Article argues that multilevel climate change networks could be more effective by embracing this geography of local action and the pressing need to foster action by suburban cities. Most emissions take place in the suburban areas of metro regions, but these networks generally do not focus on the particular needs of different types of suburban cities. This Article provides a novel analysis of patterns of participation in climate change networks by cities in six major U.S. metropolitan regions— Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York, San Francisco, and the Twin Cities—as a basis for proposing practical strategies and areas for future research. It considers what types of cities participate in which networks and where stronger and weaker network interlinkages occur. The Article concludes that networks inadequately (1) differentiate by city and metroregional type and (2) coordinate resources and strategies. It suggests ways in which networks could do so to maximize the number of cities participating in them and the participation level of those cities.