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Keywords:

  • carbon management;
  • developing countries;
  • industrial ecology;
  • readiness;
  • scale;
  • sustainable cities

Due to the growing numbers of cities and urban residents, cities have increasingly contributed to global environmental issues. Many studies have pointed out that the city administrative level is a crucial level at which to address global issues. Nevertheless, integrating global concerns into local management remains a difficult task for the majority of cities. Building on existing theoretical and empirical studies, this article explores the obstacles that impede cities from addressing global environmental concerns, the opportunities for removing the obstacles, and strategies for bringing global issues onto the local level. Many of the obstacles are reflections of contradictory perceptions, concerns, interests, and priorities, which are presented in the form of two arguments, namely the scale argument and the readiness argument, in this article. The close linkages between global and local environmental issues and the potential economic benefits arising from addressing global concerns at the local level may provide opportunities and incentives for cities to take action earlier. The author further argues that although empirical studies in developed cities suggest that the most effective way to get municipal governments to address global concerns is by not talking about the “global,” an overly localized policy might not always result in a net gain in a developing city setting.