Globalization of urban climate governance and the making of net-zero cities

Annual conference: Earth System Governance (ESG), Radboud University, Nijmegen, 23–27 October 2023

The presentation highlighted how the ongoing process of globalizing urban climate governance after the Paris Agreement resulted in the diffusion of a new norm for cities, the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The presentation stressed the evolutions of contextual conditions that enabled the diffusion of this target after 2015, in particular the role of the IPCC 1.5oC Special Report, the development of the UNFCCC Marrakech Partnership for non-state participation in the climate regime, and the performative turn of global climate governance, whereby each Conference of the Parties (COP) is an opportunity to renew political momentum for climate action. Using ethnographic observations at COP26 in Glasgow, the presentation shows how mayors use this performative shift to claim and shine as climate leaders (Aykut et al., 2022) and influence climate politics. The presentation concluded by discussing the need for rules and standards associated with net-zero pledges as a condition to strengthen the credibility of climate governance.

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