Are climate budgets the new green? A critical study of environmental discourses in Oslo's climate budget

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/LUCSUS

Sammanfattning: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the city scale continues to be of high priority. Oslo pioneered a cross-sectoral steering method ‘the climate budget’, effectively branding themselves as ’green leaders’. It begs the question; Are the novelty governance measures in Oslo driving tangible change towards sustainable pathways, or is it a case of political business as usual in a ’greener wrapping’? This calls for a closer look at the climate budget. This study identified the dominant environmental discourses within Oslo’s climate budgets, the discursive practises and activities included and excluded from the discourses, as well as degrowth potential. Guided by critical theory and a degrowth perspective, I used Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis, Dryzek’s environmental discourse categories and Van Dijk’s theory on dominance to analyse the interdiscursive level, discursive practise and social practise through an iterative research process. Data included the 2018 and 2019 climate budget reports, coalition statement document, information on the political process, six municipal press releases, a motivational speech by the Finance Minister, and two public talks. Four themes emerged; 1) a preference for a regulated capitalist market structure, 2) importance of the collective good over the individual, 3) high importance assigned to expert knowledge, technological solutions, infrastructure, and market-based incentives, and finally, 4) competing orders of discourse with national politics and mass media. This indicated strong subscriptions to administrative rationalism and ecological modernisation. Social wrongs became apparent; lack of agency assigned to citizens, disregard for local inequality, and disregard of global equity. An important discursive struggle emerged; consumption focus and recognition of ecological limits has declined steadily over the years. Emancipation from the dominant structures could be pursued by using discourses as an active strategy, looking towards degrowth ideas, complimentary consumption-based emissions accounting, and participatory approaches. The semiotic embeddedness of current values present obstacles to such an emancipation.

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