Photo of Simon Haikola

Simon Haikola

Senior Associate Professor

I research Swedish environmental politics and its value conflicts.

Conflict dimensions of environmental politics

The sphere of environmental politics gives little evidence of the consensual spirit said to typify Swedish modernisation. Conflicts between different interests have led to political lock-in, but there are also several historical examples of how environmental conflict can foster a productive political dynamic that drive environmental-political developments.

Political solutions within one problem area often breed contradictions and controversies, and can sometimes even lead to the creation of whole new problem areas that, in turn, become the focus of political attention. Rarely has this dialectic been as evident as in the field of environmental politics. The creation of modern institutions for environmental governance in the 1960s have been described by environmental historian Lars J Lundgren as the discovery of a new “continent of problems”. In my research, I study the often conflictual movement between politics and society in relation to state regulation of the environment.

I analyse how the state’s approach to the environment gives rise to value conflicts at different geographical and institutional levels, and how such conflicts in turn drive institutional change. I have studied, among other things, the politicisation of mineral extraction in Sweden during the 21st century, ideological and political aspects of negative emissions technologies, the controversial political issue of high-speed rail, and wind power establishments.

Research Projects & Programme

Pågående projekt

  • Centre for Local Government Studies (Linköping University): “The political geography of sustainability transitions: A study of small municipalities relation to private expertise in the planning of wind power and mines.”
  • Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation: “Negotiating climate emergency: Understandings of temporality in science, public debates and politics.”
  • Swedish Energy Agency: “An integrative systems approach to a carbon neutral industry.”
  • Swedish Energy Agency: “Carbon capture and storage in Sweden: Historical lessons, current perceptions and policy instruments.”
  • Formas: “Opening the portfolio of negative emissions technologies: A comprehensive study of social, techno-economic and ethical dimensions of biomass-based NETs in Sweden and Tanzania.”
  • Swedish Energy Agency/ The Swedish Research Council (VR): “High-speed rail in the Swedish energy landscape: Institutional and ideological preconditions for large-scale energy systems transitions.”
  • Swedish Energy Agency: Municipalities in tailwind and head-wind - Lessons of possibilities and challenges from municipal planning for windpower since 2009.

Avslutade projekt

  • 2015-2017. Swedish Research Council (VR): “Transformation of Swedish mining politics – Actors, possible worlds and controversies.”
  • 2016-2020. The Swedish Research Council (VR): ”Conflicting ambitions concerning the use of biomass – Sweden, Tanzania and the World.”
  • 2016-2020. Formas: ”Negative carbon dioxide emissions as a feasible transition pathway to sustainability? The uncertainties, barriers, challenges and possibilities of large-scale BECCS implementation in Sweden.”
  • 2019-2022. Mistra/Formas: “The Seed Box – An Environmental Humanities Collaboratory.”
  • 2021. Formas: “Institutional response to external shock. Can crises induce a sustainable transition of the Swedish transport system?“



Johan Niskanen, Jonas Anshelm, Simon Haikola (2024) A multi-level discourse analysis of Swedish wind power resistance, 2009-2022 Political Geography, Vol. 108, Article 103017 Continue to DOI


Simon Haikola, Jonas Anshelm (2023) Staten, marknaden och industripolitikens återupprättelse: Visioner om transportsystemets klimatomställning, 2006-2022
Johan Niskanen, Jonas Anshelm, Simon Haikola (2023) A new discourse coalition in the Swedish transport infrastructure debate 2016-2021 Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Vol. 116, Article 103611 Continue to DOI
Simon Haikola, Jonas Anshelm (2023) A tale of two crises: The emergence of an eco-Keynesian coalition in Swedish transport decarbonisation discourse Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, Vol. 41, p. 787-807 Continue to DOI


Jonas Anshelm, Simon Haikola (2022) Hydropower The Routledge Companion to Environmental Ethics, p. 349-358 Continue to DOI

Simon Haikola, Jonas Anshelm (2019): Evolutionary governance in mining: Boom and bust in peripheral communities in Sweden




  • 2017
    Assistant professor at Tema – Technology and social change, Linköping university
  • 2015 
    Postdoc at Tema – Technology and social change, Linköping university
  • 2013
    Researcher at Tema – Technology and social change, Linköping university
  • 2012
    PhD in Technology and social change, Linköping University
  • 2008
    Master’s degree in Library and information science, Borås university Bachelor’s degree in Literature, Lund university


Director of studies, Technology and Social Change.


The transformation of Swedish mining politics: Actors, possible worlds and controversies.

Conflicting ambitions for the use of biomass: Sweden, Tanzania and the world.


Environmental science program; History of technology.



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