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Back-Pedaling or Continuing Quietly? Assessing the Impact of ICLEI Membership Termination on Cities’ Sustainability Actions

Published Date October 01, 2016
Research Type


Over the past decade, cities have emerged as leaders in sustainability and climate protection in the United States. ICLEI, a voluntary network of local governments, played an important role driving this trend. After years of steady growth, ICLEI became a target of political opposition and its membership dropped significantly from 2010 to 2012. This begs the question of whether cities’ termination of their ICLEI affiliation diminishes their implementation of sustainability actions. Two surveys administered in 2010 and 2014 provide data on cities’ implementation of an array of sustainability actions. Using a difference-in-differences (DiD) method, the impact of ICLEI termination on local governments’ administrative and policy commitments to sustainability is assessed. The results suggest that ending ICLEI membership does not significantly impact local sustainability actions, and also indicate that the durability of policy actions may be only loosely linked to the policies that justify them.

Yi, Hongtao, Rachel Krause and Richard Feiock. 2017. Back-pedaling or continuing quietly? Assessing the impact of ICLEI membership termination on cities’ sustainability actions. Environmental Politics, 26(1), 138-160.