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Abstract

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), even if net atmospheric warming is limited to 1.5 ̊C, threats like extreme precipitation, biodiversity loss, sea level rise, and many other risks pose a serious hazard to the planet. Within the context of inadequate ambition on the international scale and nationally in the U.S., attention towards action on the local scale has grown over the past two decades. In terms of urban context, there is a need for more scholarship which incorporates a larger number of case studies and which addresses smaller cities in addition to the broad theme of justice. Here, I utilize a medium-n case study including cities of a range of sizes across the U.S. which have been recognized by the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 (RF100) campaign: Athens, GA; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; La Mesa, CA; Madison, WI; and Sarasota, FL. RF100 is an initiative aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy across the country while simultaneously promoting equity and justice. Using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews of organizers and officials, I find broad thematic patterns in the challenges and driving factors that campaigns face. When it comes to justice, while the national team engages thoroughly with this complex concept and its various facets, some localities are more successful in this regard than others, as they are more comprehensive and incorporate more of the components of justice identified here through prior research. The hope is that the barriers and drivers identified here, as well as the strengths and shortcomings in certain cities regarding the incorporation of justice elements, can inform both future research and climate governance efforts.

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