Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



An increasing number of cities are focusing on sustainability and climate change mitigation by joining groups such the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). ICLEI uses a five-step milestone process to help cities achieve their mitigation goals. These milestones include conducting a greenhouse gas inventory, setting reduction targets, creating a Climate Action Plan, and implementing and monitoring that plan. Prior studies have examined factors that may influence a city’s decision to join ICLEI, but few have looked at how committed the cities are to sustainability and to ICLEI itself after joining the organization. The purpose of this study is to uncover why some member cities show a greater commitment to the ICLEI program than others. Commitment to climate change mitigation was measured by the number of ICLEI program milestones achieved by 257 member cities. Fifteen independent variables covering socioeconomic conditions, local residents’ attitudes, climate stress, and location were included in a principal components analysis, chi-square test, and multiple regression analysis to identify key factors that may explain variation in level of commitment to climate change mitigation. The results show that the number of years a city has been an ICLEI member has a positive effect on milestone attainment, while the levels of car dependency and hazardous air pollutants have negative effects. In other words, member cities with higher levels of hazardous air pollution and greater dependence on automobiles had achieved fewer ICLEI milestones than cities with lower levels of climate stress. These findings are useful not only in evaluating the effectiveness of ICLEI, but in yielding better understanding of the varied environmental, cultural and socioeconomic contexts of member cities. The insights have implications for ICLEI and other similar organizations that may need to target member cities facing more significant challenges in meeting program goals with additional technical assistance and support to help them achieve meaningful local climate change mitigation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret