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Planting Mollaoglu, Emil, 2020. “Planting Trees is Always Good” : a WPR-analysis of Swedish carbon offsetting initiatives through tree planting projects in the Global South. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

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This thesis explores how two Swedish companies and a sample of Swedish consumers describe the
role of private actors in climate change mitigation. Carbon offsetting by planting trees in the Global
South has become a common approach for Swedish food and beverage companies (among other companies) that seek to reduce their climate impact. Since 2018, the Swedish fast food restaurant Max Burgers AB (MAX) has been offsetting 110% of its greenhouse gas emissions and advertises a
‘climate positive’ menu. The initiative has been prized by the UN Global Climate Action Awards for
being an innovative, replicable and scalable climate solution. MAX is also urging other companies
and private individuals to implement the ‘climate positive’ model, in order to solve the climate crisis.
This thesis draws on Carol Bacchi’s WPR approach for policy analysis to explore how the proposed
solution can be understood in terms of problem representations. Two Swedish companies’ websites
were analysed and semi-structured interviews with 13 customers at MAX were conducted in order to
understand what kinds of problems carbon offsetting by planting trees in countries in the Global South
responds to according to these actors. The thesis presents four problem-solution complexes in which
the two companies mainly represent climate change as a problem of 1) reduced emissions and carbon
dioxide removal, 2) consumption, 3) deforestation and carbon sequestration and 4) where carbon
offsetting also is represented as a solution to sustainable development challenges in the Global South.
The study concludes that on the two companies’ websites, these four problem representations
reinforced each other and created a strong narrative for practicing carbon offsetting by planting trees
in countries in the Global South as a solution to climate change and sustainable development
challenges. At the same time, the customers’ responses imply that the discourse on how private actors
and individuals can mitigate climate change is not homogenous, as they partially contrasted the two
companies’ problem representations of climate change. The customers’ responses also illustrated a
mental distance to the tree planting project in Uganda that MAX purchases carbon credits from, as
well as a lack of awareness regarding local impacts of the project. Moreover, this thesis illustrates
how planting trees has enabled MAX to communicate to its customers that they are the ones that will
solve climate change, by eating burgers at the Swedish fast food restaurant.

Main title:“Planting Trees is Always Good”
Subtitle:a WPR-analysis of Swedish carbon offsetting initiatives through tree planting projects in the Global South
Authors:Planting Mollaoglu, Emil
Supervisor:Fischer, Klara
Examiner:Hajdu, Flora and Fischer, Harry
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2020
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:carbon offsetting, climate change, sustainable development, Global South, Sweden, WPR, policy analysis
Permanent URL:
Subjects:Nature conservation and land resources
Deposited On:20 Nov 2020 11:31
Metadata Last Modified:21 Nov 2020 02:01

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