Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET)

Catching the future: How imagination shapes policies on climate action

Welcome to our virtual and physical seminar with Hedda Susanne Molland from the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at the University of Bergen.

Jasmin Sessler

Main content

The future must necessarily always be imagined. If not, it would have to be (the) present. In this seminar I will discuss the role of imagination in political justifications on climate action, exemplified with policies for carbon capture and storage. I will illustrate how a focus on imagination in analysis can reveal how policymakers conceptualize the scope of action on climate change. 

The approach relies on insights from the analytical concept “sociotechnical imaginaries”, developed by science and technology scholars Sheila Jasanoff and Sang-Hyun Kim. This is combined with theories on the organizing and legitimating properties of temporalization. I structure the approach with key principles from discourse analysis, with an emphasis on Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory. 

To exemplify the approach, I outline a study of the Solberg Government’s carbon capture and storage strategy from 2014 and show how “CO2 handling” was a defining concept. This concept ordered and organized how the Solberg Government thought about carbon capture and storage, climate action and the future. Thus, CO2 handling became what in discourse analysis is called a nodal point, which ordered a temporal and sociotechnical imaginary of the future. 

About the speaker

Hedda Susanne Molland is a PhD candidate at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen. Her PhD-project is a cultural and historical discourse analysis of policy documents concerning the Solberg government’s main climate change mitigating measures. In the project, she asks how notions of the future, time and action have shaped Norwegian climate policy.