Apologies for the six-month blogging hiatus! My excuses include becoming a father and paternity leave. Many thanks are in order to my wife and my son for putting up with me and to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for giving PhD researchers 100% pay for parental leave.
My family and I are now based in Oslo, Norway. It’s no small feat to move 6 time zones with an infant. I thank my lucky stars for a general easy-going baby and some mild sleep training! We’re living in the fantastically walkable neighbourhood of Grünerløkka: within 300m of my house there are four grocers, a tram line, a river (with waterfalls), a library and a liquor store. Most of Oslo’s visual and performing arts schools are a snowball’s throw away. The area was predominately working class when nearby factories were still around. Now, it’s rapidly gentrifying. All cities not being equal, it is a little like London’s Shoreditch, Toronto’s Queen West, or New York’s Greenwich Village.
I’m here for my doctoral research, which examines how Norway managed to develop its climate policy given that it’s a major oil- and gas-producing nation. Most countries with a substantial fossil fuel industry struggle with implementing climate policies. From my starry-eyed gaze, I am both inspired and baffled by the fact that Norway has managed to maintain one of the highest carbon taxes in the world and the world’s greatest number of electric vehicles per person.
Of course, beneath the veneer of my optimism and ignorance lies reality. Through dozens of interviews and archival research, I will chip away at my initial assumptions and get closer to how Norway’s climate policy actually came to pass.
During my six months in Norway, I’ll be based at two Oslo think tanks, NUPI and CICERO. The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) is the major foreign affairs think tank in town. I’m housed in the Russia Group and working with Indra Øverland, an expert in Russian and EU energy policy. Understanding how Norway’s oil and gas industry relates to the EU energy market will be an integral part of my dissertation. Fans of the TV show Occupied all know that Russia is kind of a big deal. It is the largest supplier of energy to Europe and, increasingly, a geopolitical wildcard. So, knowing how Norway relates to the EU and to its largest competitor is critical for Norwegian climate and energy policymaking.
I’m also based at CICERO (Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo). CICERO is one of the old dames of interdisciplinary climate policy research — it was founded in 1990 by Norway’s PM Gro Harlem Brundtland — far ahead of most of the world’s climate policy research organizations. I’ll be working with Guri Bang, a political scientist who studies climate policy making in Norway, the EU and the United States.
Now that the baby-induced fog of sleep deprivation has begun to lift and that I am (finally!) in Norway, the challenging but exciting phase of data collection begins! A not inconsequential incentive for my work: 2,600 km of metro-accessible cross-country ski trails. Now all it needs to do is snow!