Cities in the fight against climate change: legal duties and accountability

Cities play a major role in the fight against climate change. The climate challenge is included in local public action, following strategies and programs developed at national, European and international levels. In order to analyse the extent to which cities play a role in handling climate change and the nature of the role that they can play (enforcement of a strategy developed elsewhere, definition of a proper strategy or even initiators of the strategy of another level of government), the contribution firstly aims at assessing the “climate” duties that apply to cities under European and international law, and at examining how national constitutional organisation and the internal division of competences impact their scope for action and their discretion. Secondly, the contribution examines how cities can be held accountable when it comes to their role in the fight against climate change and discusses the respective merits of judicial and political forms of accountability.