A Study of the Benefits of Transnational Municipal Networks for German Climate Change Mitigation
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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change are considered a global threat requiring global solutions. Because cities produce more than half of the global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the importance of municipal climate change mitigation has increased. Municipalities around the world tend to organize themselves into transnational municipal networks (TMNs) which offer certain benefits to participants and provide a platform for exchanging ideas, know-how and best-practice information. This research project examines to what extent the expected benefits of membership in TMNs are met for German municipalities that participate in the Climate Alliance. When cities decide to join a TMN they benefit from: 1) access to information and new knowledge from the network itself but also through the exchange with fellow members, 2) technical support to calculate, forecast and monitor their GHG emissions as well as to develop and evaluate climate change mitigation measures, 3) funding support, 4) networking and cooperation opportunities that TMNs actively encourage, and 5) benchmarking, certification and awards. In order to examine these benefits in German municipalities, the study focused on the Climate Alliance, a TMN that currently counts more than 1700 members worldwide. Structured phone interviews were conducted with eleven German municipalities participating in the Climate Alliance. The transcribed interviews were coded in order to gain information on the local use of each benefit. Findings of this research suggest that some benefits are better received than others. According to the respondents, the network is primarily used for networking and information exchange purposes. Whereas the technical support is partly used, the benefits of funding support and awards and recognition are taken advantage of only in a very limited way. The main reasons for the benefits of TMNs not being used to their full potential is the lack of funding and time which German municipalities are confronted with when it comes to climate change mitigation. Moreover, the impact of TMNs is further reduced by the plethora of similar (smaller) municipal networks and organizations. Therefore TMNs need to come up with innovative ways to communicate and offer benefits for municipalities shaped by financial and personnel restrictions.