Recently, building low
carbon development pathway becomes a mandatory task for many big cities through
spatial planning. For a small city that still has many green areas, it assumed
that the mainstreaming process of low carbon development into spatial planning
is easier. However, studies that explore planning challenges of small cities in
building a pathway of low carbon development is still limited. This study aims
to examine the mainstreaming process of low carbon development strategies into
the spatial planning through three case studies of Indonesian small cities. The
quantitative and qualitative data collected from the fieldwork in three small
cities: Kasongan, fromJuneto December 2010; Merauke, fromJuneto December 2011;
and Sendawar, from January to June 2013. We argue that the small cities, which
assumed have main potential carbon storage, in fact, have also the extensive
carbon emission. They have the institutional barriers, including thelimited knowledge on the economic
opportunities of low carbon development, the lack of technicalcapacity of local
government in implementing low carbon planning process, and the inadequate data
to support the planning method. The leadership of Mayor is crucial in opening
the barriers, but not to create the pathway yet. Therefore, we suggest that providing
technical support of low carbon development, strengthening institutional
capacity, and empowering the local community would optimize the mainstreaming
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