Local climate governance in England and Germany: converging towards a hybrid model?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis investigates the governance of climate change policy in English and German cities. Based on fieldwork research in the comparable 'twin towns' of Newcastle and Gelsenkirchen, it focuses on how local authorities in these cities have worked with other actors to increase their capacity to achieve policy objectives. The study analyses these governance arrangements in the context of climate change strategies, planning policy and how the municipalities use resources in their everyday corporate activities. Drawing on theories and typologies of multi-level governance (Hooghe and Marks 2003), policy styles (Richardson 1982), urban governance (Stone 1989) and dependencies in inter-governmental relations (Rhodes 1981), it introduces a new model for mapping power relationships between governing actors. By applying this model to the empirical cases, the thesis identifies how central-local relations in England are looser than those in Germany, and how this results in weaker municipal institutions. This means that Newcastle has had to rely more on local stakeholders to achieve its objectives when compared to Gelsenkirchen. The English council is also less able to exert hierarchical authority over other bodies. Although the study found that the two cities’ approaches are converging in some areas, they are diverging in others. Indeed, they have developed their own distinct coping strategies to achieve policy objectives in the face of similar endogenous and exogenous pressures. These coping strategies are shaped by the institutional framework and power dependent relationships that apply to each city, which challenges the idea that policy problems determine the way in which the political system operates (see Lowi 1964). Such findings have implications for other municipalities in both England and Germany, as well as cities elsewhere in Europe that are seeking to address climate change or other ‘wicked’ public policy issues.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Award date19 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • climate change
  • policy-making
  • multi-level governance
  • Germany
  • England
  • power

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