The municipalities and the climate change challenge: A study of local climate governance in Norway – Ph.D. thesis


Kyrre Groven’s thesis pertains to the way Norwegian municipalities have handled the challenge of climate change, and is based on municipal environmental policy research conducted at Vestlandsforsking. The four articles cover early engagement in planning for climate emission cuts around 2000, subsequent mapping of vulnerability to climate-related hazards, and climate change adaptation. Hence, this work illustrates the development of climate governance (governance is public steering in cooperation with business and the civil society), and sheds light on how climate policy objectives have been integrated into three sectors: planning and environmental protection, civil protection, and water and wastewater.

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development introduced sustainable development as a solution to global environmental and poverty problems. With the emergence of anthropogenic climate change, the urgency of transformation to sustainability has become more evident. Key prerequisites for sustainable development include integration of environmental objectives and values into economic decision-making and public management interaction with a wide range of actors and across scales. For these reasons, governance, policy integration, and scale are chosen as theoretical approaches to a cross-cutting analysis of the papers. The overall research question is as follows: How can we understand the emergence of climate policy in Norwegian municipalities in light of the theoretical concepts governance, policy integration and scale?

The governance analysis is based on a framework that portrays contrasting dimensions of hierarchy, market and network, the three ideal types of governance, and demonstrates a large potential for change when these are deliberately combined. The empirical data contains two examples of how network-building has contributed to gathering support for a policy change that was in turn consolidated through hierarchical governance. While the literature points at network governance as the preferable approach to handling climate change, the present discussion concludes that network and hierarchy complement each other: Hierarchical governance is not sufficient for mobilizing society’s inherent knowledge and initiative, whereas new forms of governance can easily fail if not supplemented by traditional government. Another conclusion is that the Norwegian Government should encourage all municipalities to catch up with the few pioneers of climate change governance.

Groven, K. (2017). Kommunane og klimautfordringa: Ein studie av lokal klimagovernance i Norge (The municipalities and the climate change challenge: A study of local climate governance in Norway). Doktoravhandlingar ved NTNU, 2017:347. Trondheim: Noregs teknisk-naturvitskaplege universitet, Fakultet for samfunns- og utdanningsvitenskap, Institutt for geografi.