Academic attention to local climate policy usually focuses on large-sized cities. Given the climate challenges ahead this seems unjustified. Small and medium-sized cities (SMCs) deserve scholarly attention as well. The main question is: What factors influence climate change policy and local climate actions in SMCs? In this article we present an analytical framework to analyze climate change policy and local climate actions of SMCs. The framework addresses different aspects: policy-input, -throughput, -output, -outcome, characteristics of the local environment, local action arenas, influence by higher government levels, and interaction with climate change issue networks. The framework is used to analyze and compare four case studies of SMCs in the Dutch region of Twente (two urban and two rural municipalities, and addresses both adaptation and mitigation). Results show that both ‘localist’, ‘multi-level’ and issue network membership factors influence local climate policy action. Governance modes discerned concern mostly ‘governing by authority’ and ‘self-governing’. When reflecting on the role of SMCs in climate action the study revealed the importance of local capacity building schemes issued by provincial government, inter-municipal network collaboration, and the potential for local governments to mobilize and organize citizen action.
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