How Do Different Types of Local Governments’ Sustainability Programs Relate to Their Environmental Outcomes
Dr. Hyunjung Ji (The University of Alabama)
Policy Studies Journal (July 29, 2019)
Local governments worldwide have developed a suite of sustainability programs to improve environmental conditions within their jurisdictions. However, critics suggest that local governments’ sustainability programs are more symbolic than substantial in that they are often developed to create the appearance of addressing environmental issues rather than actual environmental performance outcomes. Despite the skeptics, as yet, we have little empirical understanding of the environmental impact of local sustainability programs. This paper bridges the gap by considering how the design of 102 county governments’ individual sustainability programs relates to improvement of their ozone quality between 2003 and 2013. After controlling for the spatial dependence of ozone quality among neighboring counties, this paper offers the evidence that local sustainability programs are related to improved environmental conditions. Moreover, the sustainability programs that are designed more comprehensively across environmental issues appear to have greater policy efficacy compared to those focusing on a few environmental issues. These findings provide optimistic views about the local, non‐regulatory policy effort for improving collective environmental quality. This implication is particularly salient given the lack of strong national and international environmental regulatory regimes.