In recent years, cities have asserted themselves as relevant actors in efforts to address global climate change. The announcement by the United States of their intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has generated more attention than ever for what cities and other subnational authorities can do in this field. A new article in the journal Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law asks: how will the balance between countries as central actors of the international system on the one hand and an increasingly assertive league of cities and subnational authorities be struck?
“It is more uncertain than ever how the relationship between states and cities will evolve,” said author Prof. Helmut Philipp Aust, of Freie Universität Berlin. “In the climate change context, but also with respect to migration, cities no longer automatically accept the authority of national governments. This raises difficult questions for international law and politics.”