Krause R M, 2011, "Symbolic or substantive policy? Measuring the extent of local commitment to climate protection" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 29(1) 46 – 62
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Symbolic or substantive policy? Measuring the extent of local commitment to climate protection
Rachel M Krause
Received 13 November 2009; in revised form 9 August 2010
Abstract. Over 1000 US municipalities have formally committed to reduce their local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through participation in one of several climate-protection networks. This has attracted the attention of researchers interested in theories of free riding and local political decision making who question why municipalities become engaged in this global effort. However, whereas joining a climate-protection network or adopting an emissions-reduction goal are relatively low-cost acts, the implementation of such policies entails higher costs. This raises legitimate questions about the extent and type of follow-through made on municipal climate-protection commitments. With this paper I begin to fill in the data gap around municipal climate-protection initiatives and construct an index that quantifies the GHG-reduction policies implemented by local governments. Data informing the index are collected on municipalities in the US state of Indiana and are used to test theories of local political decision making. Findings point to the important role that policy entrepreneurs play in advancing local climate protection as well as to the potential inadequacy of membership in climate-protection organizations as an indicator of increased implementation of GHG-reducing activities.
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