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TRANSFORM: Local transformation towards a low-emission society

The TRANSFORM project explores how Norwegian municipalities can contribute to transformation to a low-emission society.

In line with the ambition of the Paris Agreement to limit “the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”, the Norwegian Parliament decided in June 2016 that Norway is to become a carbon neutral society by 2030. Substantial emission reductions imply radical changes to the ways in which our society is organised and functions, and will necessitate active engagement by public, private and civil society actors in transformation processes. The concepts of green transformation and “the green shift” have become increasingly prominent in public debates about societal development and climate change. However, we lack knowledge about how such transformations are to come about, and what they will entail in practice for sub-national/local actors.

TRANSFORM will address this knowledge gap by investigating how transformation processes are conceptualised and operationalised in different Norwegian municipalities and examining the extent to which governance plans and priorities at various levels provide opportunities for transformations to a low-emission society. The aim of this project is to gain insight into opportunities and barriers for municipalities to contribute substantially to transforming Norway into a low-emission society, and to identify solutions with potential to be transferred between municipalities.

The Paris Agreement recognises that the local level is an important arena for both mitigating and adapting to climate change. As a sub-national level of governance with roles and tasks that are associated with a range of societal processes, municipalities are uniquely positioned to take a key role in transformations towards a low-emission society. However, we know little about how the municipalities conceptualise or envision transformation to a low-emission society, and what role they may want to take in this process. A range of factors are moreover likely to shape municipalities’ abilities to play an effective role as societal entrepreneurs in local transformation and development processes. These include the existence or absence of a common vision, joint problem definition, local solutions that are cost-effective, relevant and feasible, engaged individuals, relevant learning networks, political anchoring in the municipal organisation, and resources.

The TRANSFORM project will investigate these and other aspects of municipal transformation through case studies and experiments (gaming) in selected municipalities to identify learning examples of municipal practices that have relevance for wider societal transformation processes. During the project, we will also identify ways in which successful municipal experiences may be transferred between, or adapted by, other municipalities. The project will contribute to advancing theoretical and conceptual development concerning local transformation processes, as well as providing empirical learning examples of actual local transformation processes.

This project is a collaboration between CICERO Centre for International Climate Research, Western Norway Research Institute, Nord University and UiT - The Arctic University of Norway. In addition, the project has international partners at Tema Environmental Change, Linköping University, Sweden and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands.