Climate Change: Impacts and Responses International Award for Excellence

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Climate Change: Impacts and Responses Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 11

The Role of Electric Vehicles in Reducing Climate Impact: Swedish Public Debate 2010–2018

To meet the Paris agreement, CO2 emissions from road transport need to be severely lowered. In Sweden, as in many other countries, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing rapidly. This has led to a recurring debate on whether EVs will help reduce climate impact or not. The aim of this article is to analyze the Swedish debate on the climate impact of EVs with respect to framing and validity of the arguments. Thirty-one opinion pieces published between 2010 and 2018 are studied. Two discourse coalitions are identified; supporters and opponents of EVs. The opponents’ main argument is that EVs use imported, coal-fired electricity with high CO2 emissions. The supporters argue that EVs use Swedish, fossil-free electricity, thereby causing no CO2 emissions. Neither coalition’s arguments are wholly valid, but nor are they wholly false. Swedish electricity production is largely fossil-free, but, at times of high electricity demand, fossil-based electricity is imported. Thus, Swedish EVs often use fossil-free electricity, but sometimes they do not. This is likely to continue with a large-scale transition to electromobility. Both discourse coalitions motivate their positions with a desire to reduce climate impact. EV supporters are optimistic about technology development and frame EVs as fundamental for future carbon-neutral possibilities. While EV opponents are pessimistic, their framing of the issue implies a need for society to assume responsibility for sustainability in a wide system perspective. This should be acknowledged and used by policy-makers to ensure that EVs’ full potential for climate change mitigation be realized.


Policy and measures to reduce climate impact often spark emotion and opinion. In Sweden, there has been a recurring debate on whether electric vehicles are a silver bullet for sustainability or if they increase the need for fossil electricity generation. This research aims to understand these different perceptions of electric vehicles, and to discuss how the different views might influence the potential for electric vehicles to help mitigate climate change. It illuminates the relevance of using a wide system perspective and a multidisciplinary approach when examining initiatives to reduce climate impact.

—Linda Olsson

Past Award Winners

Volume 10

Climate Action Co-benefits and Integrated Community Planning: Uncovering the Synergies and Trade-Offs

Robert Newell, Ann Dale, and Mark Roseland, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.1–23


Volume 9

Communication, Collaboration and Advocacy: A Study of Participatory Action Research to Address Climate Change in the Pacific

Judith Burnside-Lawry, Morgan Wairiu, Elisabeth Holland, Sarika Chand, and Rosa Fraque, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.11–33


Volume 8

Climate Change, Conflict, and Moving Borders

James Lee and Kisei Tanaka, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.29–44


Volume 7

Unveiling the Embodied Carbon of Construction Materials through a Product-Based Carbon Labeling Scheme

S. Thomas Ng and Christopher To, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.1–9


Volume 6

An Eco-village as a Solution for the Border: San Cristobal

Sandra Acosta, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 6, Issue 3-4, pp.1–17


Volume 5

Climate Induced Migration: Lessons from Bangladesh

Reazul Ahsan, Jon Kellett, and Sadasivam Karuppannan, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.1–15


Volume 4

Leveraging Higher-Education Instructors in the Climate Literacy Effort: Factors Related to University Faculty’s Propensity to Teach Climate Change

Abby Beck, Gale M. Sinatra, and Doug Lombardi, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.1–17


Volume 3

Geoengineering in a World Risk Society

Tina Sikka, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.143–154


Volume 2

Climate Change Impacts in Pakistan: Awareness and Adaptation

Zareen Shahid and Awais Piracha, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.119–130


Volume 1

Social Capital as a Source of Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in Developing Countries

Vivek Prasad, Monique Helfrich, and Susan A. Crate, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.149–162