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Conference paper, 2009

State spaces under politics of climate change

Westholm, Erik


This paper raises some questions about the future role of politics at the national level in Europe. What future do nation states have if (when) politics of climate change becomes the dominating project? The answer requires a territorial perspective on the changing welfare states. At least in the Nordic countries the general welfare concept, directed towards equal conditions for all, could only be achieved with a territorial approach. This objective shaped the political organisation and established powerful municipalities and regional authorities able to secure the interests of the state. From the 1980`s the idea of distributing prosperity to all localities and regions was gradually replaced by an awareness of the increasing global competition, calling for efforts to develop the most competitive regions in a knowledge-based economy. In order to defend the national territory, the welfare state had to adapt to the varying specific local and regional contexts. National policies must also be linked to supra-national institutions such as the EU and institutions for global agreements on trade, carbon emissions, migration regulations etc. The nation states developed a diverse and spatially flexible political organisation. The paper addresses a possible third era of spatial politics within the welfare model. It is based on 1) an anticipated deepening of the economic and political globalisation and 2) an increasingly urgent need to address issues related to land use/climate change. The two processes are already transforming the agenda for the EU and the member states. In this paper it is argued that territorial control will be increasingly important and that the nation states are likely to continue to be the key institutions also in an era marked by increased needs for cross-border collaboration in order to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. The role of forests in climate politics is used as an example


Future; energy; EU; state; space; politics

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What future for Social investment?

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Economics and Business
    Social Sciences

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