The role of goal-setting in urban climate governance

Hege Hofstad*, Marianne Millstein, Anders Tønnesen, Trond Vedeld, Karsten Bruun Hansen

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article argues that goal-setting is an important, albeit understudied, part of urban climate governance scholarship. By using goal-setting theory, the article introduces concepts and perspectives capable of shedding new light on the political aspect of cities' climate strategic work. Climate goal-setting is studied within a wider urban governance context, as a way to activate a multitude of internal and external actors for shared goals and purposes. The article analyses levels of ambiguities of urban climate goals, and in light of different politico-institutional settings it explores possible contextual implications for cities’ climate governance.

Through a comparative analysis of four cities – Copenhagen, Cape Town, Oslo and Gothenburg, the article identifies two distinct approaches. An inclusive approach containing ambiguous all-encompassing climate goals, consensus-oriented political decision-making, a broad administrative entity with weak mandate and close and long-term stakeholder collaboration. An efficiency-oriented approach including clear and problem focused climate goals, instrumental political decision-making, a special-purpose administrative entity with a wide and clear mandate and targeted and temporary stakeholder collaboration. The article concludes by posing some key questions that should guide further research on the exact relationship between these variables.
TidsskriftEarth System Governance
StatusUdgivet - 2021

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