Giving Compass' Take:

• Cities can be potential testing grounds to understand how different approaches that involve an array of stakeholders can effectively respond to climate change and offer solutions. 

• What is the role of donors engaged in city-wide initiatives battling climate change? What are organizers doing in your city to enhance climate action? 

• Can U.S. cities help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? 

Across the world, cities are grappling with climate change. While half of the world’s population now lives in cities, more than 70 percent of carbon emissions originate in cities. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the UN’s 2016 Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany have all recognized that cities will need to be a key part of the world’s response to climate change.

Moving from identifying a solution to implementing it requires a better understanding of how cities are governed, not just in general but at the project scale. To that end, we selected three cities — Hamburg, Manchester and Pittsburgh — and analyzed a series of emblematic projects in transit, energy efficient building, and decentralized renewable energy. For each, we identified who designed, planned, financed, delivered and managed the project, across the public, private and civic sectors as well as different levels of government and geography.

We found that the delivery of similar projects differs markedly across the three selected cities. Hamburg, a German city-state with substantial fiscal powers, is able to plan for the long term as well as drive investment forward across the transport, energy and buildings sectors through a rich network of publicly-owned subsidiaries. In Manchester, the profound power exercised by the central government — and London as a premier global city — revealed substantial involvement of the private sector, specifically international firms. Finally, Pittsburgh shows the power of networks, where both strategic planning and project governance are steered by coalitions of public, private, and civic entities, with an outsize role for private philanthropy.

Read the full article about how cities across the world are responding to climate change by Bruce Katz at Brookings.