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Facing the beast

Henner Busch


Facing the beast

Entangled Cities : Transnational Municipal Climate Networks and Urban Governance


  • Henner Busch

Summary, in English

This thesis investigates the influence of transnational municipal climate networks (TMCNs) on urban climate governance in Germany. The reality of climate change means that cities all over the world are faced with two challenges. First, they need to go through decarbonisation transitions to mitigate climate change. Second, they need to adapt to the conditions of a changing climate. The growth of cities world-wide means that cities both constitute increasingly important hubs of carbon and material flows, and face increasing climate risk. This means that cities have to address both climate change mitigation and adaptation needs, while offering economies of scale for these measures.
During recent decades, a number of TMCNs have emerged. These networks aim to improve the governance of climate change related issues in their member municipalities. Many German cities and municipalities have joined these networks, and today more than half of the German population (44 million people) lives in municipalities that are members of at least one of these networks. Despite the wide proliferation of TMCNs, research on their impact has remained unsystematic, and important aspects of their impact have been neglected by existing research.
This thesis aims to close this research gap by tackling the impact of TMCNs on urban climate governance in a systematic manner through a variety of methods (including a survey, interviews, field visits, observations, literature and webpage analyses). My research focuses on the local level of climate governance, in particular on the perspective of urban climate managers, because they are key actors who link local climate governance to TMCNs. This perspective has been neglected thus far by research on TMCNs.
My results show that urban climate managers use their city’s membership in TMCNs mostly for fostering internal governance of climate issues. Specifically, membership in TMCNs is used by climate managers to support internal mobilisation on climate policies, to formulate emission reduction goals, and to institutionalise climate trajectories by, for example, creating new positions in the administration. Interaction between the local and the network level, such as project support provided by the networks, is seen as relevant but less important than previously expected. In addition, in sharp contrast to research findings in other contexts, actors in German cities seldom use the city’s memberships in these networks for green city branding purposes. Another important finding is that the interests of actors in member cities can differ significantly from staff of TMCNs, which might be due to funding issues. Networks have to rely on external funding (e.g., from the European Union or national funding schemes) to maintain their staff and infrastructure, and thus the expectations of actors in cities are sometimes not met, as is the case of the Covenant of Mayors.
By shifting the perspective to the local (or operational) governance level I am able to draw attention to impacts of TMCNs which so far have been overlooked. Based on my results, I argue that research in the field of TMCNs needs to pay more attention to internal processes at the local level of climate governance, including political struggles and contestations, else we risk missing important impacts of these networks on urban climate governance.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

Publishing year




Document type



Lund University


  • Other Social Sciences


  • transnational municipal climate networks
  • local climate governance
  • urban development
  • climate change mitigation
  • climate change adaptation
  • Germany




  • Stefan Anderberg
  • Christine Wamsler


  • ISBN: 978-91-982201-2-4
  • ISBN: 978-91-982201-1-7

Defence date

28 October 2016

Defence time


Defence place

Ostrom, Josephson building, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund


  • James Evans (Professor)