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Environmental conflict, renewable energy, or both? Public opinion on small hydropower plants in Serbia

Mile Mišić and Anastassia Obydenkova

Post-Communist Economies, 2022, vol. 34, issue 5, 684-713

Abstract: Small hydropower plants (SHPs), despite being a renewable energy source, could have negative environmental effects. Nonetheless, many countries have promoted and subsidised them, leading to a rise in the number of environmental conflicts. How was the issue of SHPs framed in Serbia by the proponents and the opponents? How did the framing strategy change over time and why? And which factors increased attention to the topic, eventually leading a change of governmental policy? To address these questions, we analyse the Serbian mass media’s environmental framing of SHPs and conduct a content analysis of 359 articles written between 2000–2020 and published by major national online newspapers and news portals. We use the Discourse Network Analyser to demonstrate changes in framing strategies that, together with increased public pressure, contributed to a re-evaluation of the impact of SHPs and ultimately changed the government’s and the public’s standing on this issue.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1080/14631377.2021.1943928

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