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Elin Lerum Boasson obtains Ph.D. with Analysis of Norwegian Climate Policy

Elin Lerum Boasson(14.12.2011) FNI Senior Research Fellow Elin Lerum Boasson has today successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation on the forces and processes behind the shaping of various aspects of Norwegian climate policy.

Dr Boasson analyses and compares the emergence of climate policy measures in the period 2000 to 2010, focusing on three areas: carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewable energy and energy efficiency in buildings.

In 2000, there was general political agreement that Norwegian climate policy should focus on general economic measures, such as the CO2 tax and emission quotas. Nevertheless, only ten years later, a wide range of more specific measures were in place, albeit with considerable differences among the issue-areas.

While CCS is supported through direct state industry construction, renewable energy is supported by means of a market-based system of green certificates. In the buildings sector, a great range of different measures have been introduced to increase energy efficiency.

Massive sums have been invested in CCS, but much less support has been given to renewable energy and energy efficiency of buildings. In her dissertation, Boasson enquires: is this due to political governance, to close ties between bureaucracy and industry actors, or to EU directives and regulation imposed on Norway through the EEA Agreement?

Multi-sphere Climate Policy: Conceptualizing National Policy-making in EuropeHer analysis shows that Norwegian politicians have devoted considerable energy and resources to realizing CCS, but opposition from the oil industry and parts of the bureaucracy has made implementation difficult. Many actors have invoked EU arguments to strengthen their own positions, whereas in reality the EU has had scant influence on Norway's CCS policy.

As regards renewable energy, it took a long time for the politicians to bow to pressures from the power industry to create a system of green certificates. It also proved difficult to design an alternative system that could be acceptable under EU state aid regulations.

Norwegian politicians were not very interested in regulations related to energy efficiency of buildings, and this gave administrative officials greater freedom to develop measures. EU policies in this sphere had differing consequences for the various aspects of policy on energy efficiency in buildings, due in part to differences between the predominant cultures of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, and the Ministry of Local Government.

Comparison of three issue-areas reveals the climate paradox of Norwegian politics: Politicians have spent so much time getting CCS to succeed that they have neither had time nor energy left to deal with day-to-day challenges related to other aspects of climate policy.

In addition to the empirical analysis, the dissertation presents a theoretical framework that can be applied to improve our understanding of how climate policy is created, in Norway as well as in other countries.

Dr Elin Lerum Boasson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, to which she has been affiliated since 2004. Her Ph.D. dissertation, Multi-sphere Climate Policy: Conceptualizing National Policy-making in Europe, was submitted to the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo in June 2011.

 The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental, energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science, economics, and international law.

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