Ranking local climate policy: assessing the mitigation and adaptation activities of 104 German cities

Antje Otto*, Kristine Kern, Wolfgang Haupt, Peter Eckersley, Annegret H. Thieken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Climate mitigation and climate adaptation are crucial tasks for urban areas and can involve synergies as well as trade-offs. However, few studies have examined how mitigation and adaptation efforts relate to each other in a large number of differently sized cities, and therefore we know little about whether forerunners in mitigation are also leading in adaptation or if cities tend to focus on just one policy field. This article develops an internationally applicable approach to rank cities on climate policy that incorporates multiple indicators related to (1) local commitments on mitigation and adaptation, (2) urban mitigation and adaptation plans and (3) climate adaptation and mitigation ambitions. We apply this method to rank 104 differently sized German cities and identify six clusters: climate policy leaders, climate adaptation leaders, climate mitigation leaders, climate policy followers, climate policy latecomers and climate policy laggards. The article seeks explanations for particular cities’ positions and shows that coping with climate change in a balanced way on a high level depends on structural factors, in particular city size, the pathways of local climate policies since the 1990s and funding programmes for both climate mitigation and adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • City ranking
  • Climate adaptation
  • Climate mitigation
  • Climate policy integration
  • Germany
  • Urban planning


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