Think Globally, Act Locally? Local Mitigation Within a Rational Choice Framework
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In the United States, localities were the first – and for the most part, remain the only – level of government to seriously attempt the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These local attempts to address the global problem of climate change appear surprising within a rational choice framework – but only if the costs of such efforts are assumed to be high. Four theories within the rational choice framework attempt to explain local mitigation, but tests of these theories have relied on measures which belie the complexity of local mitigation efforts, and lack context regarding their financial and political cost. In this dissertation, I present research which relies on new measures – measures which do reflect the financial and political costs municipalities incur. This data allows me to differentiate municipalities by these costs, identify leaders and laggards, and explore whether different theories explain their mitigation. It also allows me to answer two additional questions: first, what municipalities are specifically doing to mitigate their emissions. And secondly, whether membership in a municipal climate network predicts the receipt of state or federal mitigation funding.
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