California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed an agreement with his counterparts in Acre, Brazil and Chiapas, Mexico, to cooperate on efforts to counter climate change. In an e-mail interview, Harriet Bulkeley, a professor in the Department of Geography and the Durham Energy Institute at the University of Durham, discussed subnational cooperation on climate change.
WPR: How extensive is subnational cooperation on climate change?
Harriet Bulkeley: Perhaps surprisingly, there is no clear answer to this question. We know that city and regional governments have cooperated in developing responses to climate change since the early 1990s, but the level and extent of this effort has not been documented in a systematic way. At the city level, there are several organizations working specifically to foster international collaboration in addressing climate change. There is also cooperation on the level of regional governments, as well as more-focused initiatives, including cooperation between U.S. states and Canadian provinces. These examples are perhaps the most high-profile evidence of the growing involvement of subnational governments in cooperative efforts to address climate change, though it is likely that other activities are taking place under the radar in more-localized initiatives. Nonetheless, such collaboration still involves only a very small proportion of the total number of municipal and regional authorities worldwide.