Accountability and Data-Driven Urban Climate Governance
As city governments increasingly develop policies and programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change, it raises questions of accountability that have yet to be fully examined.
Central among these are the growing importance of data-driven decision making, and new sources and uses for data that are produced and leveraged in urban climate governance. The use of increasingly large and diverse data sets to guide urban climate action has implications for how, and by whom, local governments are held accountable, according to Sara Hughes, an assistant professor of environmental policy and planning at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.
In “Accountability and Data-Driven Urban Climate Governance,” a review published Nov. 16 in the journal Nature Climate Change, Hughes and her co-authors examine current understandings of the implications for accountability based on three common rationales for prioritizing data-driven decision-making: standardization, transparency, and capacity-building.
While data-driven climate governance has the potential to enhance accountability through each of these dimensions, it is also shifting who city governments are accountable to and whether and how they are being held to account, Hughes and her co-authors noted. They concluded that the trend toward data-driven urban climate governance can incentivize city governments to prioritize narrowed metrics and external interests, inhibiting the broader transformations required to realize climate change goals. They offer priorities for research at the intersection of data-driven climate governance and the accountability of city governments.
Read the Nature Climate Change paper here.