Multi-level climate governance in Germany – the opportunities and constraints in formal and informal instruments from a legal perspective

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Climate change is one of the most pressing societal challenges of our times. International climate governance is currently shifting from top-down and monocentric to bottom-up and polycentric governance structures with, inter alia, cities and local governments becoming increasingly visible and engaged actors. The research explores, from a legal perspective, multi-level and polycentric climate governance in Germany with a focus on formal and informal instruments of federal state (“Bundesland”) and local level (“Städte und Gemeinden”) climate action planning. The paper, first, briefly depicts recent developments in the international climate change regime to show the current shift from mono- to polycentric climate governance structures (2). It then looks at the German system of climate governance and explores the key formal and informal instruments at national and federal state level for steering multi-level climate mitigation efforts (3). At the heart of the research, three local case studies highlight the manifold ways in which German cities are currently interlinked into polycentric climate governance, depending on how they mandatorily or voluntarily interact with vertical or horizontal climate governance axes (4). Building on these case studies, the formal and informal instruments developed at the different levels of the climate governance regime, their interrelationship, potential benefits and constraints are critically discussed with a view to effective climate mitigation action (5). Finally, conclusions are drawn and recommendations developed (6).
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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