IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cities in Germany and their climate commitments: More hype than substance?


  • Sippel, Maike


While nation states debate climate policy at an international scale, on a local level, cities across the globe have committed to emission targets and mitigation activities. This study analyses the actual performance of municipal climate action against their targets. Official information material from large cities in Germany was collected and complemented with questionnaires from officials in 40 municipalities. While 77% of cities have adopted emission targets in a voluntary act, and 80% of these cities are engaged in at least basic emission reporting, only a quarter of them are on course to reach their targets. All of these ‘successful’ cities are situated in Eastern Germany – and their emission reductions can mainly be explained by the industrial decline in the 1990s after the German Reunification. Not a single city in Western Germany is on course to reach its reduction commitment. Cities average mitigation performance is slightly worse than the German average, and the effect of city networks on cities is not very clear. It can be concluded that cities are currently not living up to their ambitions. The practice of urban emission reporting does in many cases not allow for proper quality management of greenhouse gas policies. For a more meaningful contribution to the battle against climate change, cities could follow a double strategy: Firstly they could report emissions regularly and adopt realistic and city-specific targets and action plans based on their emission patterns. Secondly, they could complement their targets with a visionary approach: This would include pilot projects that demonstrate how low carbon cities could look like, as well as a more ambitious target which they would be able to reach – provided that optimal framework conditions for local mitigation activities would be put in place by other policy levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Sippel, Maike, 2010. "Cities in Germany and their climate commitments: More hype than substance?," MPRA Paper 23011, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23011

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item


    Cities; climate policy; mitigation; emission inventories; emission reporting; targets;

    JEL classification:

    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • R59 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Other

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23011. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.