Climate change entails many situations of tele-coupling. We analyze an example in the field of European climate and energy policy. The EU aims at an almost full decarbonisation of its economy by 2050. Achieving this objective asks for transforming the energy sectors of EU Member States. These are responsible for 80% of carbon emissions. Further to this policy coupling, the EU transformation objectives have to be implemented by the Member States, regions and local actors. This proves especially complex in the field of energy efficiency. Here, a variety of policy instruments and actors are in place. In our contribution, we investigate in the question how multi-level governance arrangements in the energy efficiency field are designed. We focus on Germany as example for a federal state setting. Our review method comprises literature content analysis, primary sources, expert interviews and an in-depth screening of the German Sustainable Energy Action Plans. We find that formal vertical coordination has been successfully backed up by horizontal and especially informal governance mechanisms, leading to a model of polycentric governance. This model might serve as blueprint for other multi-level governance arrangements. Yet, we find that the “last mile” of this coordination still needs strengthening: Local actors need more active engaging and empowering to reap the full potential of the governance arrangements.
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