In recent years, climate governance has shifted from the global, multilateral regime to voluntary initiatives from multiple directions. Scholars frequently use a polycentric governance lens to study the complex and multijurisdictional reality. The polycentric perspective helps to grasp the new reality at a general level, but it is lacking in specificity. To fill this research gap, this article attempts to enhance the analytical power of the polycentric governance perspective by exploring four issues: the role of the state, diffusion of local action, integration of local democratic preferences, and the role of power. These issues are discussed by doing a systematic literature review of empirical polycentric governance literature regarding climate change mitigation. The results show the importance of states at the national level and provide insights into how local initiatives share and transfer knowledge, get supported by transnational networks, and secure compliance with local democratic preferences. The literature gives less insight related to power. The article concludes by developing research agendas for further cumulation of knowledge and to strengthen climate action at all levels.

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