Around the world, cities have committed themselves to urban climate action strategies with targets that go beyond those of their national governments. To implement their strategies, cities have embraced a range of alternative governance instruments and approaches ('governance alternatives'). While they have long been lauded by academics, policymakers, and practitioners for doing so, these 'frontrunner' cities are now being seen to struggle to achieve their ambitious targets when using governance alternatives. This article seeks to unpack and better understand this struggle by zooming in on the progress made in reducing (non-renewable) energy consumption in the built environment of three major cities in the United States (Chicago, New York, and San Francisco) over the last decade. Informed by interviews and supplementary data, the article uncovers a pattern across these three cities. In the early 2000s, they all set ambitious urban climate change targets, but lacked the power and capacity to achieve these. They all used a largely uncoordinated 'scattergun approach', embracing a broad set of (at best) modestly ambitious and (regularly) opportunistic governance alternatives to achieve the aims of their ambitious strategies. Whilst this approach allowed the cities to obtain quick initial results, the resulting fragmented configuration of traditional and alternative governance instruments and approaches now hinders them from meeting their targets.
|Journal||Policy & Society: journal of public, foreign and global policy|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|