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Germany and U.S. Climate and Energy Policies at the Local Level: Common Puzzles

Germany and U.S. Climate and Energy Policies at the Local Level: Common Puzzles

by Marilena Peters -
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Participating in the U.S. Embassy’s Speakers’ Program, Nilda Mesa travelled to different cities in Germany to talk about the status quo concerning the climate and energy policies in the U.S. and Germany at the local and federal government levels. In her article she is providing insights into climate and energy policymaking in both countries and introduces initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Since in Germany the authorities of the Länder (states) are deduced from the federal government, unlike in the U.S. where the Constitution grants a significant extent of authority directly to states, Mesa's German colleagues were surprised at how decentralized the policymaking in the U.S. can be:


As their system is so centralized, they assumed ours is much the same, which led them to believe that the pronouncements coming from our federal government meant that all states and cities had no choice or flexibility to create their own policies on climate and energy."

– Nilda Mesa

So what does this mean in times of retrenchment from Washington and the U.S.’ federal governments' withdrawal from the Paris climate goals?


Little news reaches them through their media about U.S. local and state climate and energy policy, and thus they had the impression that Washington pulling out of the Paris climate agreement prohibited states and local entities as well as the private sector from following their own course."

– Nilda Mesa


Since this is not the case, the article shows that there are innovative initiatives under way such as “We’re Still In” (check out our recent blog post about the UN climate conference) and that U.S. states like New York are moving forward to meet the Paris climate goals:


New York’s policy levers to meet 80x50 greenhouse gas emissions targets, such as REV and OneNYC (…) ."

– Nilda Mesa


If you are interested in learning more about the U.S. and Germany’s climate and energy policies, click on this link to read the rest of Nilda Mesa’s blog post for the Sallan foundation.


Marilena Peters has been pursuing her B.A. in teaching Social Studies with a geographical focus and English as a Foreign Language at Leuphana University Lüneburg since 2015. After finishing her studies with a Master’s degree, Marilena intends to teach at an elementary school.