Governing the Green New Economy in the Arctic
Zoe Garbis, Erin McCarthy, Robert W. Orttung, Gregory Poelzer, Melissa Shaiman & Jacob Tafrate
In Sweden’s Norrbotten County, a “green transition” driven by market demand and new normative structures is underway, creating a regional mega-project designed to put Sweden at the forefront of emerging green industries. These industries, such as carbon-neutral steel fabrication, battery production, and data center hosting, all require large amounts of energy, land, and minerals. This paper applies the regional environmental governance framework to Arctic data to examine which stakeholders have the capacity to impose their agenda on the Arctic environment and the points of conflict and collaboration during this period of accelerated growth. The paper tests the assumption that regional governance accommodates a plurality of interests. A case study examining Norrbotten County’s industrial mega-project centered around Luleå, Sweden, identifies a dominant coalition uniting government and industry that supports norms seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this region. However, the existing regional governance model does a poor job of integrating the local Indigenous Sámi preferences for land use. At the core of the difference between actors advancing the green economy and the local Sámi reindeer herders are divergent conceptions of nature and sustainability.