Knowing climate change - city networks' alternative ways of understanding and acting upon climate change

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2022-02-22
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Politikwissenschaft
Advisor: Diez, Thomas (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2021-09-21
DDC Classifikation: 300 - Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
320 - Political science
333.7 - Natural resources and energy
Other Keywords:
City networks; climate change; transnational municipal networks; knowledge;
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Assuming that knowing a phenomenon and acting upon it are inseparably intertwined, this thesis contributes a piece to the puzzle of how we know climate change and what this means for how we deal with it. It does so by focusing on the epistemic actors ‘city networks’. Both scholarship, as well as policy-makers acknowledge transnational municipal networks (TMNs) as influential actors in the governance of climate change. This is the case because they serve as knowledge platforms and consultancies. Despite this acknowledgement, an in-depth study of what city networks’ climate change knowledge is and what it does, is missing so far. Therefore, this thesis provides an investigation of two city networks’ ways of knowing climate change. The networks chosen are C40 Cities and Climate Alliance. In order to answer the question of how these two city networks know climate change, this thesis develops a theoretical framework proposing a fourfold differentiation of knowledge forms: definitional, conceptual, problem-solving and critical knowledge. The theoretical differentiation of knowledge forms helps to empirically understand how climate change is known in different ways. This thesis finds that C40 and Climate Alliance know climate change in different, even alternative, ways. To understand where these differences come from, and what their consequences are, the two ways of knowing are contextualized and related to the two networks’ respective historical and sociopolitical knowledge environment. This environment is assumed to influence how and which knowledge is produced and passed on to member cities. To get an idea if the respective way of knowledge can also be found in member cities’ ways of knowing climate change, this thesis also includes the illustrative analysis of one exemplary member city for each network – Copenhagen and Munich – and its way of knowing. This thesis concludes that the two networks’ alternative ways of knowing are productive for the further development of climate policies. This is because for a wicked problem such as climate change there is no single best way of knowing and acting. This thesis suggests that a wide variety of different ways of knowing are potentially enabling factors for a transition to a more sustainable future. By representing co-existing, though alternative, ways of knowing, TMNs foster a certain epistemic plurality in knowing the epistemic object ‘climate change’.

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