Human experiences with renewable energy and colonial politics

This project explores the experiences, meaning-making and strategies among two different Indigenous communities who claim to be affected by the politics of climate change mitigation.  

About the project

The APA Task Force on the Interface between Psychology and Global Climate Change Report (2009) called to engage psychologists to research on the behavioral drivers of climate change and made several recommendations to guide the practice. The report suggested that some communities are especially vulnerable to suffer under climate change. This project suggests that certain communities are also vulnerable to the politics of climate change mitigation if these interact with patterns of inequality, marginalization, political violence, or colonization. The project consists of two case studies and explores the experiences, meaning-making, and strategies among two different Indigenous communities who claim to be affected by climate change mitigation politics.  

First, the project engages with the Southern Saami experiences with implementing wind energy development inside the mountain regions where they are committed to reindeer herding. As two of the contested wind power projects in Norway under study are committed to providing energy to aluminum production, this project follows the supply chains to northern Brazil. It explores the experiences of communities around bauxite mining and alumina production sites.

Second, the project engages with the experiences of the Indigenous peoples Guaraní and Kaiowá in the Brazilian state Mato Grosso do Sul, where long lasting sugarcane and soybean production, is rebranded as climate change mitigation. The area is identified as a site of severe violation of the Indigenous peoples’ human rights, entangled with the agribusiness sector.

The empirical research is based on individual and group interviews, participant observation, and document analysis.


The project seeks to contribute with knowledge about how politics of climate change mitigation might affect Indigenous communities in ways that might receive too little attention, and that poses profound questions concerning the current paths to mitigate climate change. 


Primary outcomes are the publication of four academic articles. In addition, research is being disseminated through opinion pieces in newspapers, seminars and conference participation.




The Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo


Published Aug. 19, 2020 2:12 PM - Last modified Oct. 28, 2020 4:16 PM