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2020 ECPR Winter School in Methods & Techniques

Governmental Activism Against Dutch Offshore Windmill Parks

Conflict
 
Public Policy
 
Climate Change
 
Presenter
Imrat Verhoeven
University of Amsterdam
Authors
Imrat Verhoeven
University of Amsterdam

Abstract
After the Paris Agreement governments push renewable energy more than ever before. In the Netherlands, the national government committed itself to a growth from 4 percent in 2013 to 16 percent in 2023. Building large offshore windmill parks is seen as a quick win to achieve these goals.

The plans for these parks have met with great resistance along the Dutch coastal line because they are planned within the 12-mile zone, which makes them visible from the shore. Surprisingly, the resistance is driven by local governments in close collaboration with local action groups. These local governments engage in demonstrations, petitions and rallies. They subsidize local action groups and form action strategies together with them. At the same time, they engage in intense lobby processes with the national ministry and the Dutch parliament. In a recent article, I called this phenomenon 'governmental activism', which refers to both the unconventional political behavior of these municipalities and to their use of apparently conventional political behavior deployed within an activist strategy.

Government usually does not play an active role in conflict escalation. At best it is seen as a target of claims made by others or as operating in a way that stirs others to make contentious claims. In this paper, I want to explore the role of governmental activism in conflict escalation. I want to do so from an interpretive perspective since persuasion is an important tactic employed by local governments. Hence, I want to focus on how local governments, together with their nongovernmental allies, frame their counterarguments in a political environment that employs dominant renewable energy discourses. Hence my main question for this paper will be: how do local governments frame their resistance against renewable energy policies? Answers will come from recent fieldwork on governmental activism against a large offshore windmill park in the Netherlands.
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