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The Rise of Climate Populism – New project

Observers of populism have noted a shift in the past few years: while migration and immigration are still at the of heart populist rhetoric, these parties and groups have started to add climate change measures to their litany of complaints against elites.  The Gilets Jaunes, while not necessarily straightforwardly populist, were the starter pistol to this development.  Macron’s fuel tax triggered unprecedented and sustained violent protests from parts of the French public who argued that this was another instance of an elite that embraces policies that disproportionately affect ordinary people. At a time when the influx of migrants into Europe was subsiding, climate change policies were an ideal substitute stick with which to beat elites.  The populist argument, across Europe, is that environmental and energy policies are both economically uncompetitive as well as unfair on ordinary people—and another instance of elites telling ordinary people what to do.

How do policy-makers tackle such accusations? How can they address people’s concerns, while securing the necessary consent to implement policy change?

The project is an attempt to understand better the intricacies of the populist argument – it contains subtleties that anyone involved in climate change policy needs to be familiar with;  But the aim is also to examine how these issues get addressed by those who elaborate and implement climate policy initiatives.

What does a climate change ‘offer’ need to look like from the point of view of the policies and the accompanying narrative, in order for members of the public to rally?  Or at the very least, to consent.

Watch this space for early results, publications and notices of debate.



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