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Do city climate plans reduce emissions?

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  • Millard-Ball, Adam

Abstract

More than 600 local governments in the US are developing climate action plans that lay out specific measures to reduce emissions from municipal operations, households and firms. To date, however, it is unclear whether these plans are being implemented or have any causal effects on emissions. Using data from California, I provide the first quantitative analysis of the impacts of climate plans. I find that cities with climate plans have had far greater success in implementing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than their counterparts without such plans. For example, they have more green buildings, spend more on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and have implemented more programs to divert waste from methane-generating landfills. I find little evidence, however, that climate plans play any causal role in this success. Rather, citizens’ environmental preferences appear to be a more important driver of both the adoption of climate plans and the pursuit of specific emission reduction measures. Thus, climate plans are largely codifying outcomes that would have been achieved in any case.

Suggested Citation

  • Millard-Ball, Adam, 2012. "Do city climate plans reduce emissions?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 289-311.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:71:y:2012:i:3:p:289-311
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2011.12.004
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    1. Li, Shanjun & Kahn, Matthew E. & Nickelsburg, Jerry, 2015. "Public transit bus procurement: The role of energy prices, regulation and federal subsidies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 57-71.
    2. Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Maennig, Wolfgang, 2015. "Homevoters vs. leasevoters: A spatial analysis of airport effects," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 85-99.
    3. Jonathan E. Hughes & Molly Podolefsky, 2015. "Getting Green with Solar Subsidies: Evidence from the California Solar Initiative," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 235-275.
    4. Jae-Seung Lee & Jeong Won Kim, 2017. "The Factors of Local Energy Transition in the Seoul Metropolitan Government: The Case of Mini-PV Plants," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(3), pages 1-22, March.
    5. Saujot, Mathieu & Lefèvre, Benoit, 2016. "The next generation of urban MACCs. Reassessing the cost-effectiveness of urban mitigation options by integrating a systemic approach and social costs," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 124-138.
    6. Kristof Dascher, 2013. "Climate Change and Urban Contours: Why Countries with Denser City Centers Fight Climate Change Harder," ERSA conference papers ersa13p744, European Regional Science Association.
    7. D. Reckien & J. Flacke & R. Dawson & O. Heidrich & M. Olazabal & A. Foley & J. Hamann & H. Orru & M. Salvia & S. Gregorio Hurtado & D. Geneletti & F. Pietrapertosa, 2014. "Climate change response in Europe: what’s the reality? Analysis of adaptation and mitigation plans from 200 urban areas in 11 countries," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 331-340, January.
    8. repec:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:681-690 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Sánchez-Braza, Antonio & Pablo-Romero, María del P., 2014. "Evaluation of property tax bonus to promote solar thermal systems in Andalusia (Spain)," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 832-843.
    10. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:27-35 is not listed on IDEAS
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    12. Cordis, Adriana S. & Warren, Patrick L., 2014. "Sunshine as disinfectant: The effect of state Freedom of Information Act laws on public corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 18-36.
    13. Achim Hagen & Leonhard Kaehler & Klaus Eisenack, 2016. "Transnational Environmental Agreements with Heterogeneous Actors," Working Papers V-387-16, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2016.

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