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Working paper / Energy

Mobilizing Cities towards a Low Carbon Future: Tambourines, Carrots and Sticks

Author(s): MEEUS Leonardo, DELARUE Erik

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ABSTRACT

In the transition towards a decarbonized energy system, we need city authorities to lead by example as public actors, to govern the actions of the private urban actors as local policy makers, and to conceive and manage the implementation of an integrated approach as coordinators, which we introduce in this paper as three levels of city smartness. Local governments however have institutional disincentives to act, and if they do act, they are confronted with urban actors that are reluctant to follow. This paper analyzes how city pioneers in Europe have been able to overcome these disincentives thanks to a combination of local circumstances and interventions by higher levels of government. We categorize the state of the art instruments that have been used by higher levels of government into “tambourines”, “carrots”, and “sticks”, and reflect on how the state of the art could be improved.