The Climate Council as Second-Order-Management: The Use of Independent Experts as a Means of Legitimizing Political Decision-making

Frederik Tronier Kapper & Sebastian David Raymond Groth

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis analyzes the political mobilization of the Danish Climate Council (Klimarådet) by the Danish government and, as such, the effect of the Council on the management of Danish climate policy making. The thesis falls in two parts: in the first part it outlines theories of political governance/management; and in the second, it analyses The Climate Council’s role in the Danish climate debate. Bringing together Michel Foucault’s governmentality and Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory, this thesis shows how: The Climate Council is a tool at the disposal of politicians that enables a room for political action; and how The Council is constituted in public debate. To supplement Foucault and Luhmann’s social theories, we bring in more specific theory about the strategic elements of reform policy as well as the so-called commission strategy by Grønnegård Christensen, Mouritzen og Sonne Nørgaard, which points to the use of commissions as a political strategy. The thesis demonstrates how the creation of The Climate Council can be viewed as an example of second-order-management of Danish climate policy from the S-RV-administration and how the following administrations have responded to and utilized the The Climate Council politically. The creation of The Climate Council can be understood as illuminating a blind spot – made possible by the second-order observation of the S-RV-administration. Building on this the thesis unpacks how the work of The Climate Council is used in public debate by several actors who strategically mobilize the scientific argument for competing, often contradictory, ends. With this in mind, we argue that the creation of the council is best viewed as an attempt from the S-RV-administration to scientificize their position and policies in the climate debate. The thesis, thus, assesses how the ecological threat is constituted through communication and how the solution-based approach of The Climate Council has become politicized in the attempt to translate climate science into the premises of the economic system in order to optimize the accumulation of resources effectively. Lastly, the thesis discusses the possibility of a sustainability and climate dispositif and how The Climate Council is central in shaping the contours of truth/knowledge in the climate debate. A war of truths is distinguished by the constitutive outside of Foreningen Atomkraft Ja Tak (a nuclear power NGO) that also tries to claim the scientific argument in the solution-based climate debate. Based on social constructivist and poststructuralist theories, the thesis demonstrates how different truths can emerge and compete depending on the viewpoint.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages107