International grant for climate change governance

Michael Gibb

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A cross-disciplinary study on climate change developed by Dr Maria Francesch of the Department of Public Policy at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has received a prestigious Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung (Germany) (KAS)research grant.
The study is also closely tied to some of the interdisciplinary themes emphasised in CityU’s 2015–2020 Strategic Plan, i.e. smart cities, sustainable energy, climate change, environmental degradation, among others.
The KAS grant has been warmly welcomed at CityU because it serves as international commendation for CityU’s research capacities.
“CityU is fortunate to be one of the first recipients of a KAS research grant since the Foundation opened its new regional office 'Energy Security and Climate Change in Asia-Pacific' in Hong Kong in March of this year,” Dr Francesch said.
The title of the project is “Transnational Climate Change Networks: New Forms of Authority or Mobilization Mechanisms to Secure Consent?”. The grant is worth HK$450,000.
KAS is a think-tank, closely affiliated with the German Christian Democratic Party. Funded by the German Parliament (Bundestag), it organises more than 2,500 conferences and events each year worldwide, and actively supports the education of intellectually gifted youth through prestigious scholarship programmes. It also organises seminar programmes and offers research grants to very select top-level academics.
In addition, Dr Francesch’s project aligns directly with one of the five overarching themes in CityU’s new Strategic Plan.
Under the theme of Interdisciplinarity and Team-based Research to Address Global Challenges, “Smart City” is recognised as a cross-cutting theme that can lead to innovative solutions to address regional and global concerns about sustainable economic development.
Smart City encompasses such challenges as sustainable energy, climate change, environmental degradation, urban planning, government regulation and the law.
“The project fits well with what HKSAR is trying to do in terms of greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, future electricity generation, the market and fuel mix,” said Dr Francesch, whose recent work has focused on low-carbon strategies for local communities,  assessment strategies for reducing carbon emissions in Hong Kong and climate governance in Chinese cities.
The aim of the KAS-backed project is to investigate how alternative forms of governance, that is climate networks, rather than state actors alone, can collaborate transnationally on ways to mitigate climate change  and produce transformational policy.
“It’s about understanding how  local networks that stretch across borders are created,” Dr Francesch explained. “How, why and to what effect can these networks help to build consensus and share best practice at the local level.”
The project takes inspiration from the work of the C40 Cities Climate Change Leadership Group, a network between several of the world’s major cities that are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“In our new programme on Energy Security and Climate Change in Asia Pacific, we look at the important role cities can play in energy security and climate change, and how people in the region can work together to protect their communities,” said Dr Peter Hefele, Director of the KAS regional office in Hong Kong.
“Universities like CityU have a major role to play in this area,” he added.
International collaborators:
●    Professor SK Chou, Energy Studies Institute, Singapore
●    Professor Harriet Bulkeley, Department of Geography, Durham University, UK
●    Professor Timothy Moss, Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning, Germany
●    Professor Ann-Margaret Esnard, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, US


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