Climate protection activities at the local level play an important role towards responding effectively to global climate change. The research at hand deals with the subjectively nominated success factors and barriers relevant to the implementation of climate protection measures in local municipalities. Determinants for the transition towards energy sustainable communities (Schweizer- Ries, 2008) are the subject-matter of a longer research tradition (Schweizer-Ries, 2009). In order to work out recommendations for a German federal policy instrument designed to support municipalities towards climate protection, we chose to concentrate on municipalities having applied for the above mentioned funding. Some of these municipalities also plan to realise a process towards “zero-emission” as a long-term project. With qualitative interviews, we assessed in a first research step, how local stakeholders perceive the climate protection measures inside their municipalities, how they were successfully implemented, where social barriers appeared and how they could be minimised. Thus, we were able to collect subjective determinants of success or failure for zeroemission processes. We also examine the role of the citizens, and make the case for increased public participation. The main insights of these first results are that within the administration of local municipalities, cross-sectional interaction and communication are crucial, along with the need to engage a socially skilled permanent employee to manage the implementation of measures and activate external stakeholders. Involving citizens is pivotal in shaping a zero-emission community identity and reality. The research is designed to shed some light on the role the above mentioned financial support programme and therefore serves as policy counselling. The policy instrument seems to be able to promote most factors of success within local authorities, only minor adaptations are necessary.