In spite of the obvious threats that climate change poses to both the natural environment and human security, states of the world have been slow to react. What political and economic interests and cultural values are preventing the international community from addressing this important issue in an effective way? Auður H Ingólfsdóttir explores this question in her doctoral dissertation using a case study approach in one Arctic state – Iceland – to explore climate change impact, policy discourses, and the values underpinning those discourses.
In her analysis Ingólfsdóttir employs a feminist social constructivist perspective, through which concepts from feminism and gender studies are used as analytical tools. The case study analysis reveals that although climate change is perceived as a threat in Iceland, it is seen as an abstract and distant threat, and scant research exists on the socioeconomic impact. After evaluating climate policies and public discourses on climate change in Iceland, the overall conclusion is that the underlying values guiding public policy can be labeled neither overwhelmingly masculine nor overwhelmingly feminine.
A key observation, however, is that in order to obtain a holistic picture, climate discourses need to be viewed in the larger context of more mainstream discourses on security and economic development. An examination of public discourses related to the emerging oil and gas sector in Iceland demonstrates that masculine values still dominate mainstream economic policy and that man’s right to exploit nature is deeply engrained into the culture. Yet, with a strong civil society, increased awareness of the climate crisis, and active resistance to dominant views, it is possible to carve out space for alternative values, emphasizing a more feminine approach toward the relationship between humans and nature.
The main obstacles preventing states from taking action to address the climate crisis appear not to be an opposition to specific climate policies or explicit denial of climate change as an issue worthy of attention. Rather, climate issues are ignored and pushed to the side and actions delayed when other issues, considered more pressing, consume time and resources. Short-term economic gains still receive priority over long-term ecological and human security.
Information on the public examination of the dissertation:
Auður H Ingólfsdóttirʼs doctoral thesis Climate Change and Security in the Arctic. Analysis of Norms and Values Shaping Climate Policy in Iceland will be publicly examined with permission of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Lapland in lecture room 3 on Friday, 16 December 2016 at noon. Dr. Teemu Palosaari and Dr. Annica Kronsell will be opponents and Dr. Lassi Heininen will be the Custos.
Ingólfsdóttir has written the dissertation as a joint degree PhD student, in accordance with a special agreement between the Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Lapland and the Faculty of Political Sciences at University of Iceland. Her two supervisors are Dr. Lassi Heininen, professor at University of Lapland, and Dr. Thorgerður Einarsdóttir, professor at the University of Iceland.
Information on the doctoral candidate:
Auður H Ingólfsdóttir (born in Iceland 1970) holds a BA degree in international studies from University of Washington (Seattle), a post graduate diploma in professional journalism from University of Iceland, and a Master degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University (Boston). She has been working as an assistant professor at Bifröst University, Iceland, since 2010, where she teaches in the PPE Program (Philosophy – Politics – Economics). Her main interests are in the fields of international relations, environment and sustainable development, gender, security studies, conflict resolution and peace building.
Before entering academia Auður worked as a journalist (1995-1997), as a special advisor in the Ministry for the Environment (2002-2003) and as an independent consultant on environmental policy (2003-5 & 2007). She also spent some time in Sri lanka as a cease fire monitor (2006) and worked for one year as a gender advisor for UNIFEM (now UN Women) in the Balkans (2007-2008).
Auður H Ingólfsdóttir
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For press copies of the dissertation and sales, please contact Lapland University Press, tel. +358 40 821 4242, publications (at) ulapland.fi
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Information on the publication:
Auður H Ingólfsdóttir: Climate Change in the Arctic. Analysis of Norms and Values Shaping Climate Policy in Iceland. Acta Universitatis Lapponiensis 338. Lapland University Press. Rovaniemi. 2016. ISBN 978-952-484-934-0. ISSN 0788-7604. Online version (pdf): Acta electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 206. ISBN 978-952-484-935-7. ISSN 1796-6310.
Photo: James Einar Becker