THE REASONS AND CONDITIONS OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS IN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY. A case study of the reasons and conditions for use of symbolic politics in the decision of Low Emission Zones for cars in Stockholm
This thesis aims to examine the reasons and conditions for symbolic politics in the decision to implement Low emission zones (LEZ) for cars in Stockholm. A LEZ restricts the ability to move with certain vehicles in an area to improve air quality, decrease congestion and sending a signal for upgrading the car/vehicle fleet (Connelly et.al. 2012). Symbolic politics can appear when decisions become politically important because they symbolize something important, not necessarily because they have the aimed or substantive effect (Santesson-Wilson, 2003; Newig, 2007). The decision to introduce a LEZ for cars on Hornsgatan, Stockholm, can be considered as symbolic politics. The issue is politically important and symbolizes the importance of better air quality without having a substantive effect since the zone only covers one street. It is a suitable case for examining the reasons and conditions for symbolic politics in environmental policy. This is a qualitative single case study and the empirical data collection consists of interviews with decision-makers and experts. Five reasons and four conditions for the use and adoption of symbolic environmental politics are the basis of the theoretical framework. These reasons and conditions were developed to hypotheses, which are tested in relation to the collected data. The hypotheses were all confirmed as present to some extent. The most important reasons were uncertainty, cost reduction and integration and social orientation by symbols. The most critical conditions were political pressure to respond, lack of clear solutions or greater short-run costs than benefits and societal conflict.