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Governing Decarbonisation : The State and the New Politics of Climate Change


Summary, in English

This dissertation examines the “new climate politics of decarbonisation” and the role of the state as a site for progressive climate action. This new politics concerns transformative social change aimed at moving society away from its current dependence on fossil carbon energy. A transition to low-carbon societal development hinges on restructuring and decarbonising those key systems, structures and practices that generate carbon emissions. Engaging with theoretical perspectives on the state in environmental governance and its role in steering policy change and enabling system transformations, I examine how the state can govern decarbonisation through exploring empirical examples across a wide range of policy sectors such as energy, transport and industry. Given the centrality of state authority in the organisation of modern society, a low carbon transition is conditioned on authoritative steering, long-term active support of state institutions and a diversified portfolio of policy approaches and objectives.

The material for this compilation thesis is drawn from the Swedish policy realm. The included papers analyse the development of arrangements for environmental governance, climate policy discourse and institutional conditions for governing low-carbon transitions by means of public policy in Sweden. A key insight across these papers is that the state remains a critical site for steering and enabling system transformations. A modern (environmental) welfare state, such as Sweden, holds untapped capacities to govern decarbonisation by progressively advancing and scaling up the efforts to reorient societal development. Thus, a decarbonising state can be made more actively engaged in steering and enabling processes of low-carbon transitions, and could explore new ways for orchestrating a wide range of low-carbon initiatives and developments.

Publishing year





Lund Political Studies



Document type



Lund University


  • Political Science


  • climate politics
  • the environmental state
  • decarbonisation
  • low-carbon transition
  • energy transformation
  • authoritative steering
  • enabling
  • orchestrating
  • Sweden




  • Governing transitions towards Low-Carbon Energy and Transport Systems for 2050

Research group

  • Miljöpolitik



  • ISSN: 0460-0037
  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-182-1
  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-181-4

Defence date

5 December 2014

Defence time


Defence place

Edens hörsal, Paradisgata 5 H, Lund


  • James Meadowcroft (Professor)