Bjørvika : a pioneer in environmentally sustainable urban development? : a case-study assessing the legitimacy of Bjørvika’s environmental sustainability proclamations from the perspectives of ecological modernisation and degrowth
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With the climate crisis as a reference point, this thesis investigates environmentalism in a Bjørvika: an ongoing urban waterfront development in Oslo, with high promises for environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability in the case is scrutinised through the lenses the dominant green growth discourse and the emerging degrowth discourse. Based on these theoretical notions, this thesis seeks to accomplish three objectives regarding the case: (1) to trace the underlying environmental discourse in Bjørvika, (2) to assess the legitimacy of Bjørvika’s claims to environmental sustainability, and (3) to shed light on barriers hindering the project from being more environmentally sustainable. The objectives are approached in a qualitative manner, with data acquired through interviews with key stakeholders in the Bjørvika development, study of secondary sources and observation. The study found that the Bjørvika development is driven by a strong growth ideology, to which environmentalism strategically serves as a catalyst. As a result of the strong growth ideology, the project’s sustainability claims lack legitimacy from a degrowth perspective. Bjørvika’s environmental sustainability claims also lack legitimacy from a green growth perspective because the project failed to extensively implement eco-efficiency solutions. The study suggests that neoliberal tenets of privatisation, profit-orientation and governance serves as a partial barrier to implementation of ecological modernisation, and that embracement of growth and freedom of choice serves as a fundamental barrier to degrowth.