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Lena Bendlin

Lena Strehlow

Scaling up local climate policy: Intercommunalities in multi-level climate governance in France and Germany

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs

In light of the stalled international climate negotiations and modest success of national greenhouse-gas emission reduction programs, huge hopes and growing attention have concentrated on climatepolicy at the regional and local level. Using this back door for progress on mitigation requires scalingup local climate action from pioneer examples to widespread policy.However, municipalities experience serious hindrances in taking up best practice examples or advancing existing climate plans. Problems are linked to restrictions in terms of human and financial resources, expertise, and responsibilities. Up-scaling strategies thus need to reconcile municipal proximity and planning capacities.

The dissertation project argues that intercommunal structures, which remain understudied in local climate policy analysis, could play an important role as they pool municipal resources and responsibilities. Many intercommunal structures voluntarily or mandatorily act on climate mitigation; some are members of municipal networks such as the Covenant of Mayors. Building on a multi-level governance framework and organizational theory, the dissertation project explores why intercommunal structures engage in climate mitigation, how they do it, and what difference it makes for climate governance architecture. To this end, an embedded multiple case study compares five intercommunal structures engaged as Covenant Coordinators: Greater Stuttgart Region and Metropolitan Region Rhine-Neckar from Germany, and Greater Lyon, Rennes Metropolis,and the Community of Communes of Val d’Ille from France.
Cross-case analysis points to intercommunal scopes of action for climate governance and highlights the importance of national frameworks for local climate policy. With regard to the Covenant of Mayors, case studies demonstrate local authorities’ challenges in implementing Covenant commitments, the diverging objectives of Covenant stakeholders, and the pitfalls in intra-network communication.

Biographical background

Lena Bendlin obtained a Franco-German double degree in Political Science from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille. As a research associate at the Environmental Policy Research Center (FFU), she has taught numerous courses on European environmental and climate policy. She is a member of the Transformation Research Cluster at Heinrich Böll Stiftung and ThinkTank30, the young think tank of the German Society to the Club of Rome.


Bendlin, Lena (2014): Women's human rights in a changing climate: highlighting the distributive effects of climate policies. In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 680- 698. 

Bendlin, Lena (2013): Le Sommet de Copenhague: un partenariat franc-allemand défensif. In: Claire Demesmay, Martin Koopemann, Julien Thorel (eds.): L'Atelier du Consensus. Processus franco-allemands de copmmunication et de décision. Cergy-Pontoise: CIRAC, pp. 151–164.

Bendlin, Lena (2013): Der Klimagipfel von Kopenhagen. In: Claire Demesmay, Martin Koopmann, Julien Thorel (eds.): Die Konsenswerkstatt. Deutsch-französische Kommunikations- und Entscheidungsprozesse in der Europapolitik. (=Genshagener Schriften – Europa politisch denken) Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 159–172

Bendlin, Lena (2011): EU-Nachhaltigkeitspolitik: Im Spannungsfeld zwischen ambitionierten Nachhaltigkeitskonzepten und Umsetzungshindernissen. In: www.fes-online-akademie.de.