Document Type

Occasional Paper

Paper Type

Student Research

Publication Date

Fall 2014


Globalization is a dynamic, transboundary force challenging the Westphalian model of state-dominated geopolitics that has dominated world affairs for nearly 400 years. Equally problematic to state-centric international relations is global climate change, an environmental calamity that is increasingly being recognized as a threat to state security, yet cannot be solved by traditional diplomatic or military means. Consequently, an array of sub-national actors are becoming more influential in all areas of global governance, including the management of the planet’s ecological commons. This paper explores how cities are following the trajectory of this trend to establish themselves as world leaders in formulating climate change agendas. Inconsistent efforts to draft effective climate strategies at the state and international levels are contributing to this power shift, along with the ability of metro-regions to establish global networks dedicated to sound emissions reduction and climate planning strategies. Analysis further shows that urban areas are important loci of economic production and commodities output, as well as key entry points for domestic and international trade, the combination of which suggests metro-regions have the necessary capital and political wherewithal to serve as initiators of green diplomacy. Discussion follows concerning the specific intra-state and transnational efforts cities are taking to become catalysts for international climate action, as well as what unique challenges they face.


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Occasional Paper Number