Slow Emergency but Urgent Action? Exploring the impact of municipal climate emergency statements in Sweden
Summary, in English
In recent years, more than 2000 jurisdictions worldwide have declared a climate emergency. While such declarations have been suggested to have the potential to spark transformative climate action, there is much disagreement about the merits of climate emergency framings. Moreover, no studies have been conducted on the topic from a Swedish perspective. This study addresses this research gap by exploring the ‘climate emergency statements’ issued by the Swedish cities of Lund, Malmö, and Kalmar. Specifically, the study focuses on the political implications of the statements, and the extent to which the climate strategies of these three municipalities correspond to a climate emergency mode. The findings indicate that the political implications of the climate emergency statements are perceived to be rather limited, and mostly symbolic. However, it appears the statements, at least to some extent, have empowered the climate movement in Sweden, and invited reflections on the capacity of municipalities to act on the climate crisis. Moreover, the document review suggests that the cities exhibit – at least implicitly – a climate emergency mode. The study concludes that if symbolic acts such as the statements are to assist transformative change, they must be coupled with political and practical action.