Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Experts as Game Changers? A Critical Discourse Analysis of Climate Measures in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam

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Abstract:  This article analyzes the acceptance of climate policy measures in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam to understand how policy and planning interrelate with private and public interests. While legitimizing climate policy and measures, values can also cause conflict when operationalized locally. By analyzing value conflicts in public discourse, we gain insights into questions of environmental behavior and their influence on the acceptance of climate action. We report on quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis covering 410 articles from Dutch newspapers between 2015 and 2021 in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam related to the energy transition, mobility, and urban greening. Our findings show that public discourse mostly remains abstract and detached from local contexts. As experts and politicians dominate the debate, the discourse mainly addresses science- and policy-related arguments, representing the public interest but reflecting only insufficiently private interests and the local (re-)distribution of benefits and burdens. Therefore, we attribute spontaneous protest to the lack of reference to differentiated values at the local level and find the argument of NIMBYism insufficient to explain residents’ opposition. Instead, our findings point to experts’ and decision-makers’ lack of recognition of the local “idea of place” and a community’s identity as an explanation for the sudden emergence of protests. Here, urban design may bridge the gap between policy and planning by translating technical and economic constraints into place-specific designs.

Keywords:  climate change adaptation; climate change mitigation; critical discourse analysis; environmental behavior; identity of place; public acceptability; urban design; urban planning; values


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© Tanja Herdt, Víctor Muñoz Sanz. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.