Klimahandlingens potentialitet: En diskursanalyse af Regeringens repræsentation for klimahandling

Mette D. Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In the recent parliamentary election in June 2019, climate change was the highest registered concern among the Danish citizens, which places a demand on the newly elected Government to take climate change seriously. Under the agreement ‘A Fair Direction for Denmark’, the new Government committed itself to a political program that aims to promote one of the most ambitious climate policies in the world. However, this is easier said than done. Climates change is an example of what many ecological political studies call hyberobjects or wicked problems. Giving the magnitude of climate change, a number of communicative and managerial challenges are therefore expected to be linked to the Government’s climate policies.
With an empirical basis in the Government’s public communication on climate change, this thesis examines how the Government constitutes itself as a representative of the universal project on climate action. Based on the theoretical concepts of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s political discourse theory, with a special emphasis on their conceptualisation of the universal and the particular, the thesis examines how the Government constitutes its own role as a representative for climate actions.
Through the discourse analysis, the thesis displays how the Government’s representation for climate action builds on a vision for a better future, where the climate actions of today potentially can generate this future. Climate actions emerge as an empty signifier constructed as a universal ambition of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030 based on a particular idea of green.
The analysis shows, how the climate's complexity places the Government's representation in a number of paradoxes, which force the Government’s climate actions to stay in its potentiality. In overcoming these paradoxes, the analysis identifies six discourses in which the Government through the represented partially fixed the meaning of climate actions by a nodal point of green – whether it is green transition, green research, green habits or green consumption. In other words, the Government constitutes a universal climate action based on a particular green fixation, in which they stimulate the represented to perform actual climate action. By constructing a political scope for action, the represented becomes a question of power as well as an area of political interest for the Government. By means of different techniques in the political scope for action, the represented is constituted to acknowledge themselves as part of the Government’s universal project on climate action. This construction places the Government’s representation in an eternal recursivity between actuality and potentiality, or rather between actual climate action that can lead to future climate actions which potentially can achieve the Government’s vision of a better future. In other words, the Government’s representation for climate actions does not leave a lot of space for solving the climate crisis.
Drawing on Bruno Latour’s recent book Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Bruno Latour, the thesis is finalised with a reflection upon how we can solve the climate crisis, and whether it is a question of liberating ourselves from the fixed system and instead acknowledge that nature is no longer an inert background from which resources are extracted for human activities; rather, it has reclaimed its role as an active agent in the fate of the planet, which is why we need to build a system combining humans and nonhuman entities.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages90
SupervisorsChrista Breum Amhøj