The purpose of this article is to improve understanding of local climate action plans and their implementation and evaluation. It explores how goal definition and the choice of assessment metrics frame goal attainment and influence implementation behaviour. Using the Danish capital of Copenhagen for an in-depth case study, we map activities undertaken and assess implementation performance in terms of infrastructure changes and GHG emission reductions during the period from adoption of the first climate action plan in 2002 to the present day (2017). The study shows that while Copenhagen exhibits a high overall implementation performance, both in terms of changes in energy supply and emission reductions, these metrics are only partially linked. It also shows that inconsistencies between the system scope of the base year emissions and goal attainment, due to the use of offsetting, may lead to system developments that inhibit further changes beyond the initial target period. The article concludes with a list of lessons learned for other cities that are in earlier stages of climate planning. Most importantly, the study points to the need for activity-related evaluation metrics, scope consistency, and targets that can provide a robust incentive through changing energy systems.
- Energy transition