Københavns Kommune som klimaaktør: Klima - karma - drama?

Søren Fløe Jensen

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


Climate Change and the global challenge of mitigation are at the fore of the global political agenda these days. Storytelling about the abyss of climate change is almost omnipresent and has been specifically so up to and during the Copenhagen COP15 summit. This dissertation has taken on to investigate how this affects the strategic situation of at large city – in casu Copenhagen. What become goals in terms of mitigation, how are these goals affected by external factors and prevailling images of what a city municipality is and does, what capability to act on these goals is at hand, and which room for action do external factors leave the municipality? These questions are analyzed on the empirical basis of the recently issued Copenhagen Climate Plan, including its preceding reports, and interviews, predominantly with leaders and staff from the city administration. A special, a bit more in-depth scrutiny is undertaken, concerning one of the plans so-called Lighthouse Projects, “Cars should run on wind power”, aiming, at a considerable pace, to introduce and build infrastructure for electric and hydrogen powered vehicles. Theoretically, the analysis takes an institutionalist stance and builds on three elements: • A model on strategic, environmental setting for a public actor as three normative vector dimensions, named Civil Society, Market and Government • A model on legitimacy as consisting of pragmatic, moral and cognitive elements • A capability model on an actors ability to act, constituted by common values and legitimacy, authority and finally capacity in terms of time, organisation and money The main findings are, that the goals and room for action are primarily defined by • a prevailing conception, that citizens at large and thus local politicians favour concrete, user-affiliated benefits and services in the city, which doesn’t allow very much for aspirations to spend municipality money on mitigation endeavours in their own right • a heavy “market competition” between large cities and a special drive and possibility for Copenhagen to build on to its already existing brand as the Eco Metropolis by flavouring it with an ambitious Climate Action profile – specifically in view of the exposure generated by the hosting of COP15. • a conspicuous absence of a specific role for cities and municipalities in national and international Climate Policy, which accordingly fails to counterbalance the aforementioned prevailing position of citizens by legitimizing municipal spendings on ambitious climate goals The capability to act is found to be considerable, due to a strong legitimacy, originnating from the city brand – the Copenhagen Story – and a strong leadership commitment. An important question mark is attached to the durability and profoundness of local political support. It is noted, that there is a highly dynamic balance, and that a shift in the external factors simultaneously affect goals, capability and room for action, and might cause non-linear changes and a potentially radically new situation. It is evaluated, that so far the Climate Agenda has not shown to be anything like a revolutionary force, influencing municipality practices in a dramatic way, but that the potential is there, pending on a general cognition of even greater, political urgency and united and forceful political action on the global scene. This, indeed, did not occur as an outcome of the COP15. But who knows?

EducationsMaster of Public Administration, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages114