UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cities and climate change : power games and greenwashing through transnational urban networks Pjevovic, Dushan


The 21st century is the century of the city. As urbanization continues, cities will stand at the forefront of environmental progress. In the last ten years, the landscape of environmental politics has been filled with mayors who make grand claims and give significant praise to transnational urban networks. Furthermore, networks have done an excellent job of positioning themselves as important actors in climate change. However, there is sufficient reason to question whether these networks should be perceived as sources of progressive climate change policies. In this thesis, I argue that networks reinforce existing imbalances in world politics and create a Realist subset, composed of cities, in international society. Additionally, networks are advertisement boards rather than causes of progressive climate change policies. They merely report already performed actions and serve as platforms for information dissemination. Moreover, I argue that the true purpose of networks, and one of the main reasons they are expanding their influence, is hidden behind smoke and mirrors. Mayors use networks to build a “green” image, a presence and a reputation that extends beyond the borders of their city. In fact, mayors have used this leverage to further their political journey, with several of them continuing careers as Presidents. I go on to argue that most climate change issues are domestic problems that are being framed as international problems through transnational urban networks. Networks have unjustifiably taken credit for many progressive climate change policies and have relegated domestic politics to the status of a marginal player in what is best described as a power game. In fact, at times, networks have formed self-serving partnerships that could be interpreted as subtle forms of intimidation.

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