Right-wing populism and climate policy in Europe

Rechtspopulismus und Klimapolitik in Europa

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 already sitting in seven governments of EU member states and are expected to make up a quarter of MEPs after the European elections in May 2019. Citizens' trust in democratic institutions and Europe seems to be dwindling, the party spectrum is re-sorting, traditional popular parties are losing influence and multi-party coalitions and minority governments will 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 digitisation, urbanisation and climate change.

Against this backdrop, the authors examine in an explorative study the voices and the weight of right-wing populist parties in the formulation of a 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?

It looks at the 21 strongest right-wing populist parties in Europe and their attitude 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.

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 published in February 2019.

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