Research Südtirol

5c/2022: Climate change integration in the multilevel governance of Italy and Austria

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  • Project duration: September 2020 - December 2022
  • Project status: ongoing
  • Funding:
    Provincial P.-L.P. 14. Research projects (Province BZ funding /Project)
  • Total project budget: €299,775.96

Climate change “is the epitome of a multilevel governance challenge”. While objectives and framework rules are decided at the international level, the implementation of those same rules requires the adoption of measures at different levels of government, including the subnational level.

This project focusses on subnational governments as central players in the integration of climate change considerations in those policy sectors where they exercise legislative powers. The reasons for this focus relate to three main factors. First, the impacts of climate change are felt most immediately at subnational and local levels, and require policy responses that are closer to citizens. Second, subnational governments hold powers in most of the sectors either impacted by climate change or that directly affect national and international mitigation and adaptation goals, including transport, energy policies (hydroelectric), and spatial planning. Third, there are few comparative studies of climate change integration at the subnational level.

In this context, this comparative project investigates two main research questions:

1) To what extent and by which means have the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano in Italy and Länder Tyrol and Vorarlberg in Austria integrated climate policies in sectors where they exercise exclusive and shared legislative powers? The project will concentrate on the following policies: transport, energy and water, and territorial planning.

2) What institutional factors prevent or facilitate climate change integration at the subnational and local levels, in terms of both policy-making and implementation? Five main institutional factors are argued to play potentially decisive roles: 1) coordination among authorities responsible for sectoral policies (horizontal/vertical and formal/informal); 2) public participation; 3) leadership (both political and in the administration); 4) information on climate change (as available for policy-makers, administrators, and the public) and its communication (at what stage and by what means); and 5) dedicated funding.

These research questions will be investigated by an integrated research team composed of experts in law and sociology of law from Eurac Research, the University of Innsbruck and the University of Trento. The main methodology used will be: a) a thorough literature review; b) text analysis of policy documents, strategies, sectoral plans, and interdepartmental arrangements; and c) interviews of both policy officers and main stakeholders.

Scientific Output

The fight against climate change: a matter for subnational governments!

The much-awaited COP26 has come to an end after long negotiations. The final outcome document, also known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, has been met with lukewarm enthusiasm even by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who stressed the need to accelerate action to be able to stay within the global temperature rise of 1.5°. read more

Federica Cittadino, Institute for Comparative Federalism, Eurac Research EUreka! blog, 23 November 2021

Discovering subnational paths to climate change integration: an Austrian way

Climate change is a global problem and a worldwide perceived urgency which requires prompt responses and actions at different levels of government. Austria is committed to a very ambitious green agenda: achieving climate neutrality by 2040. Needless to say, the contribution by the subnational entities (Länder) is and will be indispensable! [read more]

Alice Meier, Institute for Public Law, State and Administrative Theory, University of Innsbruck, EUreka! blog, 14 December 2021

Light and shadow of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies: South Tyrol

The Eurac Research project "Climate change integration in the multilevel governance of Italy and Austria" aims at studying and comparing how the Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano/Bozen (South Tyrol) and Trento, and the two Austrian Länder Vorarlberg and Tyrol are tackling the struggle against climate change. [read more]

Giada Giacomini, Institute of Comparative Federalism, Eurac Research, EUreka! blog, 11 January 2022

© Michael Held/Unsplash

The current situation of climate change integration in Trentino

There is a central but under-studied aspect in the fight against climate change: the implementation of effective mitigation and adaptation measures at the sub-national level. Climate governance, in fact, is taking on an increasingly global dimension and while this is essential for addressing such a wide-ranging issue, it should also manage to maintain some difficult geo-political equilibria. [read more]

Niccolò Bertuzzi, School of International Studies, University of Trento, EUreka! blog, 18 January 2022

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