Internationalising cities : Cities as global actors ? The new diplomacy of cities for climate change

Fourth international workshop of the research program Internationalizing Cities 

29 May 2017 (8:30 – 18:00)

Caquot 1 auditorium / amphithéatre Caquot 1
Coriolis Building / Bâtiment Coriolis
Ecole des Ponts ParisTech
Cité Descartes, Champs-sur-Marne

Since the 1990s, a new diplomacy of cities has been emerging to address climate change. Born in the wake of local foreign policy experiments on the West Coast of the United States, it is spreading through the action of transnational municipal networks which contest the monopoly of international (inter state) relations to address global change issues. In reaction to the limited results of climate negotiations and to the continued influence of fossile and fissile energy lobbies at national level, some cities or city networks develop strategies to limitate GHG emissions or the impact of their climate consequences. Local governments aspire to gain importance on the international stage : to ask for more local autonomy; to contribute to solve issues that affect or will affect their economic prosperity and the health of their residents; to assert the role of cities in a context of growing internationalization and increasing economic and political competition between territories and between levels of government; and more generally to help shape economic globalization that directly affects cities.

The development of this new urban geopolitics (S. Sassen) needs to be explored: how it emerges, how it evolves, what its aims and implications are. During this one-day conference organized in Marne-la-Vallée (Cité Descartes), a range of international experts will examine and discuss these new urban dynamics, their recent developments, their economic and political dimensions, and the associated adjustments and tensions. Among the issues addressed at the conference: What are the visions and objectives of the range of existing city networks on energy and climate change? What type of energy transition do they promote, and in partnership with whom? What are the areas of agreement, but also of disagreement or contention, between these networks? To what extent have European energy transition policies stimulated this evolution? How can the recent internationalization of the European city network Covenant of Mayors be accounted for?

And in terms of global political ecology more specifically: How effective is the energy and climate diplomacy of cities? What are its main outcomes at local, national and transnational levels? Do city networks contribute to improving energy and climate justice? How do they affect the member cities’ low carbon policies? Are new forms or areas of political action emerging within these networks? Does city climate action promote more democratic energy choices?

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