Special Section: Experimental and speculative political ecologies edited by Dylan M. Harris and Dan Santos

Climate targets as more than rhetoric: Accounting for Norway's Zero Growth Objective

Authors: Håvard Haarstad orcid logo (University of Bergen) , Siddharth Sareen orcid logo (University of Stavanger and University of Bergen) , Tarje Iversen Wanvik orcid logo (Bergen Municipality)

  • Climate targets as more than rhetoric: Accounting for Norway's Zero Growth Objective

    Special Section: Experimental and speculative political ecologies edited by Dylan M. Harris and Dan Santos

    Climate targets as more than rhetoric: Accounting for Norway's Zero Growth Objective

    Authors: , ,

Abstract

Climate-related targets for cities abound, but it is unclear how important they are in driving actual transformations. Scholars have often taken a skeptical view of official climate discourses, including their ambitious targets, and instead turned their attention to experimentation, innovation and civic action – colloquially termed 'real action.' In this article we try on the opposite view. Contributing to 'speculative political ecology', we argue that climate-related targets, even those without hard policies directly attached to them, can render climate change more governable and actionable. In a fragmented, polycentric and dispersed governance landscape, the immutability of a 'hard' number can create coherence, direction and measurability to policy action. We examine a particular target, and its associated governance instruments, which has arguably had a transformative effect on urban policy. Our empirical focus is Norway's Zero Growth Objective in urban transport policy. We follow the target from its first formulation as a soft goal around 2006 and until 2019, by when it had materialized as a hard target shaping funding streams and concrete policy interventions, and most likely, emission levels. Arguably, it has been a highly effective frame for policy.

Keywords: climate change, targets, immutable mobile, transport policy, Norway

How to Cite:

Haarstad, H. & Sareen, S. & Wanvik, T. I., (2023) “Climate targets as more than rhetoric: Accounting for Norway's Zero Growth Objective”, Journal of Political Ecology 30(1), 542–557. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/jpe.4691

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Funding

  • JPI Climate
  • Research Council of Norway (grant 302307, 321421)

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Published on
13 May 2023
Peer Reviewed