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Stakeholder Engagement in Climate Change Policymaking in American Cities


In all likelihood, climate change will be the most challenging environmental problem that societywill face in the new century. Despite growing scientific evidence that climate change is takingplace, skepticism still exists about whether it is actually occurring and, if it is, whether increasedgreenhouse gas emissions will have a significant adverse impact on the ecosystem. Unlessdivergent actor groups are able to establish a dialogue on these issues, meaningful discussionsabout the causes and effects of climate change will not take place, government action will not beforthcoming, and additional harm to the ecosystem will occur. This, in turn, will place animpediment in front of public and private efforts to promote sustainability, making it even thatmuch more difficult to reverse course and adopt needed changes to energy production andconsumption in the future. This paper contributes to the emerging scholarly discussion aroundthe dimensions of climate change communication by conducting a stakeholder-focused analysisconcerning climate change at the local level. The paper draws upon a theoretical frameworkdeveloped by Sabatier et al. (2005) to analyze stakeholder involvement in collaborativewatershed management, and applies the framework to climate change policymaking in American cities. A major goal of the study is to assess the value of this framework for analyzing the nature and extent of interactions between the major players involved in climate change mitigation andadaptation at the local level. Developing an effective stakeholder framework can help us to understand the multifaceted stakeholder dynamics around climate change communication at the municipal level and can be a critical contribution to theory and, subsequently, to policymaking by helping decision makers become aware and knowledgeable about their constraints and opportunities in addressing climate change within the urban context. Overall, research on climate change policymaking by cities is underdeveloped, and this paper adds to this literature.

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