Climate Futures

Climate Futures

Healthy Cities ‘Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities’

Speaker: Mr Anthony Jackson - University of Dundee, Scotland
When: Monday 4th June 2012, 1.00pm-2.00pm
Location: Building E6A Room 131
Audience: Academics, staff, students

Abstract: Scottish councils have been given statutory responsibilities for delivering some of the most challenging mitigation and adaptation targets for climate change in the world, reflecting central government’s dirigiste, top-down approach to this problem.  In the United States, there is no federal mandate for tackling climate change: individual municipalities address the problem either by joining one of several voluntary initiatives or by following legislative requirements of their own State, creating an asymmetrical, bottom-up response.

Our paper considers the economic and environmental implications of these contrasting approaches to the local governance of climate change by focusing on two best-practice local authorities in each jurisdiction: Fife Council in Scotland, and the City of Portland in Oregon State, northwest USA.  The atmosphere is a common property resource.  This makes it impossible to exclude free-riding jurisdictions unwilling to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from any benefits created by those who agree to act.  Furthermore, if jurisdictions which tackle climate change do so in ways that harm the competitiveness of their local economies, carbon leakage will occur as businesses and people move to locations free from such burdens.  This weakens the overall effort to mitigate climate change, reduces overall productivity and frustrates attempts to promote sustainable development. 

Under these circumstances, efforts by individual cities to hit ambitious climate change targets offer little benefit unless their actions are sufficiently cost-effective to encourage others to emulate them.  Local councils must find ways of showing the rest of the world that creating a low carbon economy is feasible and worthwhile, rather than expensive and difficult.  Our paper draws on recent research to demonstrate these points.

Tony Jackson has pursued an active career in economic development and environmental management.  After degrees in economics at Cambridge and agricultural economics at Reading, he worked on development projects in Africa before accepting academic posts in St. Andrews and Dundee.  Much of his research involves collaborative work with colleagues in British Columbia, New South Wales and New Zealand on the promotion of sustainable development in small communities.  Recent papers compare efforts to address urban sprawl in Prince George BC and St. Andrews Scotland; to develop local climate change action plans in Scotland and Oregon State; and to apply strategic environmental assessment in New South Wales and Scotland.  In addition to his academic responsibilities, he has worked extensively in practice: as a consultant engaged in economic development and environmental assessment; as an elected member of a Scottish local authority; and as chair of the National Council of the Institute of Economic Development, the UK’s premier professional body for economic development practitioners.  Following retirement from full-time academic work in 2011, he remains actively engaged in research as an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Dundee.  In addition to his consultancy activities, he is currently an external examiner at Imperial College London and at the University of the Highlands and Islands, serves as Treasurer of the Transatlantic Studies Association, and is International Development Editor of Local Economy.

Jackson T, Lynch W & Illsley B M (forthcoming 2012) “Fishing from the same pool: the influence of environmental governance on local climate change actions in Scotland and the US Pacific Northwest”, Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management (ISSN 1464-3332)

Jackson T & Lynch W (2011) “Public sector responses to climate change: evaluating the role of Scottish local government in implementing the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009”, Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, 8/9, 112-135 (ISSN: 1836-0394) available from

Jackson Lynch Climate change in Scottish LSA

Back to the top of this page