Right-wing populism and climate policy in Europe

Thessaloniki, Greece - February 1, 2018. The silhouette of a farmer is seen, as he holds a speech during a farmers protest against their income cuts

In a current study adelphi is investigating how right-wing populist parties in Europe behave in the field of climate change.

Right-wing populist parties are part of the governments of eight EU member states and are making up a quarter of MEPs after the European elections in May 2019. The dwindling trust of citizens in democratic institutions and in Europe, the re-sorting of party spectrums, the declining influence of traditional popular parties as well as the emergence of multi-party coalitions and minority governments will all make governance increasingly difficult. At the same time, we are experiencing a profound transformation of life, work and mobility: European societies are facing epochal changes through digitalisation, urbanisation and climate change.

Against this backdrop, the authors Stella Schaller and Alexander Carius from adelphi examine in an explorative study the voices and the weight of right-wing populist parties in the formulation of European climate policy:

  • How widespread is disinformation on climate change?
  • What arguments and narratives do right-wing populists use for or against climate and energy policy - nationally and multilaterally? 
  • Does the emergence of right-wing populist parties threaten Europe's position as a pioneer in climate policy?

For this, the authors look at 21 of the strongest right-wing populist parties in Europe and their attitudes to climate research and climate policy - from the German AfD and Great Britain's UKIP to Hungary's Fidesz, Italy's Lega, Sweden's Democrats and Greece's Golden Dawn.

The analysis is based on official electoral programmes, public statements, interviews with party leaders and press releases. The authors also analyse the parties’ voting behaviour in the European Parliament. In the light of growing right-wing populism, the study identifies risks and side-effects for a future European climate policy, discusses the pros and cons of coalitions of democratic parties with right-wing populists, and calls for a change in climate communication.

To be launched on 26/02 (Berlin) and 27/02 (Brussels).

Download the study here.

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