Carbon Storylines : The discursive struggle over carbon offsets as a decarbonization pathway in the Swedish Climate Policy Framework
Abstract: This study addresses discourses and how they affect climate policy, through the example of carbon offsets as a tool to reach domestic emissions reductions in the Swedish Climate Policy Framework. An interpretation of Maarten Hajer’s argumentative discourse analysis is applied to understand the ideas and arguments that inform the policy debate on carbon offsets as a supplementary measure in this policy process. By mapping, comparing and finding dominating storylines, it presents how Swedish government actors, businesses- and non-governmental organizations legitimize, justify and contest carbon offsets. The findings suggest that the dominating storylines largely remain in the status quo on carbon offsets, connecting to the larger policy discourses of ecological modernization and green governmentality. They also show a potential attempt to divorce of international development from carbon offset mechanisms, as a way to increase efficiency. However, in a Paris Agreement and Article 6 landscape, room to reimage and critically evaluate the use of carbon offsets has also emerged. Established actors join civil society in raising uncertainty and doubt of the future of carbon offsets. These discursive shifts may impact how Sweden intends to exercise leadership in deep decarbonization going forward.
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