Learning within local government to promote the scaling-up of low-carbon initiatives: A case study in the City of Copenhagen

Didi van Doren*, Peter P.J. Driessen, Hens A.C. Runhaar, Mendel Giezen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Local governments are experimenting with low-carbon initiatives (LCIs) to learn how the transition to low-carbon cities can be advanced. However, little is known about how local governments can capitalize on what has been learned and use it to accelerate scaling-up processes. This paper explores the complex relationship between LCIs and learning processes at the level of local government. The issue is examined through an explorative embedded case study in the City of Copenhagen, a sustainability frontrunner. The paper makes three contributions that enrich literature and practice concerning climate governance for sustainability transitions. First, it offers an overview of two types of knowledge that can be derived from LCIs to accelerate scaling-up processes: instrumental and transformative knowledge. Second, the paper provides a concrete overview of learning practices for governing learning processes within local government. Local governments can learn from LCIs through four categories of practice: experience accumulation, knowledge articulation, knowledge codification, and knowledge distribution. Finally, the paper offers an overview of explanatory factors related to the motivation, resources, and skills that influence a local government's capacity to learn from LCIs. The findings particularly highlight the importance of setting a mandate for experimenting with and evaluating LCIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111030
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Experimentation
  • Initiatives
  • Learning
  • Local government
  • Low-carbon
  • Scaling-up

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