It is often thought that local governments in the Global South have less influence over climate city networks than those from the Global North. We question this by examining how different climate city networks relate and function as interconnected, yet independent, decision-making centers. We explore the extent to which this polycentric system overcomes the assumed exclusivity and inequality of these networks. We analyze twenty-two climate city networks using qualitative comparative analysis to classify the networks with a majority of members from either the Global North or the Global South based on conditions related to their context, diversity of members, and degree of homogeneity. We find that climate city networks overcome North–South dependencies through targeted support reflecting the local needs and conditions of city members. This diversity of tailored alternatives for cities provides equality and inclusivity at the polycentric system level, despite showing inequality and exclusivity at the network level.

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