CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

The transformative potential of local-level planning and climate policies. Case studies from Norwegian municipalities

Hege Westskog, Nils Johan Aarsæther, Grete K. Hovelsrud, Helene Amundsen, Jennifer Joy West, Ragnhild Freng Dale

We analyse whether and how current municipal climate policies can be characterised as transformative and which factors and pathways may lead to transformative change at the municipal level. Based on 13 in-depth case studies of Norwegian municipalities, we address the transformative potential of climate planning and policy measures as defined and implemented by municipal authorities. We argue that municipalities’ engagement in transforming towards a low- emission society must be seen as a continuous process. Our investigation shows that municipal transformative actions are both “broad” and “in-depth”. Our study has identified several frontrunner municipalities whose “green pathways” towards transformation have emerged through historical events. We also identify how these transformative aspects are emphasised by networks and entrepreneurial actors. However, in the majority of municipalities studied, transformative climate policies are challenged by the need for job and business development along with competition over limited resources to fulfil mandatory public service tasks.

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