This Article seeks, to begin to define a role for cities and their inhabitants in climate change governance. Part I argues that if we fail to take into account global urbanization and its defining characteristics, namely extreme squalor and associated social ills, as a central feature of climate change policy, we face, as a Rio de Janeiro taxi driver said to me during the hot, dry, violent winter of 2006 in that city, 13 "urn futuro bandido," literally "a bandit future." That is, we face a future where cities, the places where most of the world's population lives, will experience sustained and perhaps intractable urban violence and social disintegration, a development that can only hasten the separate but related harms caused by climate change on the world's human and biological populations. Part I also explains that the term "cities" does not refer only-or even primarily- to elected or appointed municipal governments. Rather, Part I endorses an expansive understanding of cities to include both metropolitan areas on the official grid and also the shantytowns and slums, the expansive informal and extra-legal settlements that define urban living for millions the world over.
Part II explores some of the consequences of the inattention of the climate change literature, and especially the mainstream U.S.-based legal scholarship on climate change, to incorporate a voice for the world's megacities and their extensive mega-slums in climate change governance. In particular, Part II argues that the failure to incorporate a voice for cities reinforces existing and seemingly intractable divisions in international efforts to resolve climate change. Thus, elites with carbon-consumptive behaviors in "developing" countries can hide behind their nations' demands for reductions in "developed" countries, while, conversely, responsible actors in "developed" countries get grouped together with the carbon-consumptive habits of their economic betters. Part II therefore suggests that the presence of voices representing urban populations would help reveal some of the self-interest on all sides and redirect climate change law and policy towards the implementation of more equitable solutions.
Part III then outlines some of the normative advantages of city-inclusive governance in the context of climate change regulation. Part III thus suggests how incorporating voices from cities in climate change governance will serve the larger goals of climate change regulation, including emissions reductions strategies and particularly the goal of adaptive management.
Finally, Part IV outlines possible solutions to address the concerns addressed in the previous parts, suggesting ways in which climate change debate and the search for legal solutions to help combat the phenomenon might take account of global urbanization. Specifically, Part IV suggests ways in which a voice for cities, and in particular those urban residents usually without voices-in local or national, much less international forums- may be heard, and their views taken into account in reversing the negative effects of climate change.
36 Fordham Urb. L.J. 211 (2009).