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Between national soft regulations and strong economic incentives: local climate and energy strategies in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Lennart J Lundqvist
S. Kasa
Published in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
Volume 60
Issue 6
Pages 1092-1111
ISSN 0964-0568
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1092-1111
Language en
Links 10.1080/09640568.2016.1197827
Keywords soft regulation, economic incentives, local climate strategies, degree of institutionalization, shadow of, governance, cities, policy
Subject categories Political Science


This paper contributes to the current discussion on whether 'soft' regulation actually influences policy outcomes by examining the effects of national policy instruments on municipal climate and energy planning. Sweden has experienced shifts in the incentive context over the last decades complementing soft planning regulations with stringent conditions for getting national economic support to local energy and climate action. We hypothesize that when soft regulations are surrounded by detailed conditions for getting state support, there will be higher degrees of local institutionalization of climate and energy strategies. The importance of economic support as part of national policy is confirmed by evidence from local energy and climate strategies and from interviews with local decision-makers. We also find that specific municipal features such as earlier municipal engagement in national support programs and relevant inter-municipal networks function as drivers for the institutionalization of local action.

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