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Local Environment: International Journal of Justice and Sustainability

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Abstract/ Summary

There is a widespread assumption that most people will not effectively respond to climate risk until they personally experience its negative effects. Yet this assumption raises some interesting questions in the Swedish context. The majority of Swedes say they have not experienced the negative effects of climate change, but they are among the world’s citizens most concerned about and active on the issue. These observations raise the question - why do many Swedes act progressively if they do not feel environmental risks “closer to home”? Is there something exceptional about Swedish environmental ethics, political culture or governance structures? This paper explores these questions, using the Swedish case to challenge essentializing concepts like “Giddens’ paradox” which, too often, equate risk perception with self-interest, neglect concern for climate justice and depoliticize climate knowledge. This research suggests that concern for climate justice, rather than self-interest, proves to be a more powerful motivator for climate action in the Swedish context and potentially beyond.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

This is a pre-publication version of the following article: Isenhour, Cindy. 2010. On the Politics of Climate Knowledge: Sir Giddens, Sweden and the Paradox of Climate (In)Justice. Local Environment: International Journal of Justice and Sustainability 17(9). The final published version can be found at the following link:


pre-print (i.e. pre-refereeing)