The struggle for the climate agenda: A discourse analysis of the Danish climate policy negotiations

Louise Nikoline Laub

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis is motivated by an interest in how climate policy is determined. More specifically I have attempted to answer the research question: How and by whom is the Danish climate policy determined? To answer this question I have made a discourse analysis of four Danish policy agreements made in the period between 2007 and 2011 that constitute an important part of the Danish climate policy, namely the Energy Policy Agreement from February 2008, the Green Transport Policy from January 2009, the Tax Reform from March 2009, and the Green Growth Agreement from June 2009. The negotiations of these four agreements have shown a number of similarities. Generally the Government, supported by the DPP and a number of business associations, have formed one discourse coalition, while the Opposition supported by NGOs and some businesses have formed an opposing discourse coalition. These discourse coalitions were united around competing storylines that fought to become hegemonic. In all four negotiations the ecological modernisation discourse can be considered to have been hegemonic, hence limiting the range of policy options that were considered suitable to the instruments that could contribute to economic growth while also being beneficial to the climate. The sources of antagonism between the competing discourses in the negotiations were primarily not related to climate policy, which suggests that the investigated political agreements did not have climate policy as their primary concern; other policy considerations had to be fulfilled before these climate concerns could be addressed. The conclusion of this thesis is that the Danish climate policy was influenced by a number of different actors such as political parties, business associations and, to a smaller extent, NGOs. The content of the Danish climate policy has been determined by a discursive struggle in which the ecological modernisation discourse succeeded in becoming hegemonic. This discourse limited the range of policy options that were considered suitable to instruments that could contribute to an improved climate as well as, perhaps even more importantly, to economic growth.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages102