Clean energy innovation in US and UK local authorities

D. Pitt, Alina Congreve

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Our paper compares approaches to climate change mitigation planning among leading local authorities in the US and UK. We present a new, unique contribution to the literature by focusing on strategies to promote clean energy use (energy efficiency and renewable energy) and examining how certain local authorities have become leaders in that domain. Clean energy is an important new issue in planning, as it both reduces the carbon footprint of our local communities and makes them more resilient in the face of dwindling conventional energy supplies.
This research began with a rigorous review of prior academic articles, government documents, and third-sector reports to prepare a list of local authorities in the US and the UK that have adopted notable local clean energy strategies. We then chose five leading localities in each country and conducted detailed case studies based on a series of in-person and telephone interviews (four per locality) and a content analysis of relevant plans and policy documents.
Based on these case studies, our paper compares the energy planning approaches that have been taken in the UK vs. US localities and discusses the challenges and opportunities presented by the national political contexts and policy frameworks in each country. It also examines the stated motivations for pursuing clean energy planning and the manner in which plans and policies were developed in order to identify common traits or approaches that have helped the local authorities in both countries to become clean energy leaders and innovators.
Previous studies of local authorities in the UK have described climate change planning as an example of multi-level governance among various scales of government and non-governmental actors (e.g., Bulkeley and Betsill, 2005). In the US, a prior assumption that climate change mitigation planning was limited to a narrow range of localities with certain shared demographic and political traits has been challenged by more recent findings in which the adoption of mitigation policies is influenced by various measures of local institutional capacity (Krause, 2012) and collaborative planning approaches (Pitt, 2010). We merge these lines of reasoning to compare how our leading local authorities have used collaboration with local stakeholders and coordination with other government agencies to foster clean energy policy innovation. In addition to furthering the literature on climate change mitigation planning, these results will provide a useful guide to policymakers in both countries who wish to follow the example of leading localities and develop their own innovative clean energy strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
EventPlanning for Resilient Cities and Regions - Joint AESOP/ACSP Congress - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 15 Jul 201319 Jul 2013


ConferencePlanning for Resilient Cities and Regions - Joint AESOP/ACSP Congress


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