The rise of Right-wing populism (RWP) has contributed to political polarisation over climate policy in many countries, which has generated or exacerbated political gridlock and thwarted the development of climate policies that are consistent with the Paris Agreement 2015. This project investigates the nature of the linkages between RWP and opposition to climate science and policy as well as the drivers of this association through a cross-national study of Norway, Germany, the USA and Australia. Combining both quantitative and qualitative methods, the project integrates both bottom-up psychological explanations and top-down structural and mobilization explanations to explain the performance of different predictors of opposition to climate science and policy. The objectives of the project are to:
1) explore and explain the relationship between RWP and opposition to climate policy among voters,
2) explore and explain the opposition to climate policy in RWP parties,
3) explore the relative importance of privileged versus marginalized groups as drivers of RWP
supporters’ opposition to climate policy,
4) explore how the strength of resistance from RWP supporters varies across different questions relating to climate science and policy and across time, and
4) propose options for responding to RWP opposition to climate policies based on POPCLIM’s diagnosis
and research results
Right-wing populism (RWP) has been on the rise in many democracies and has become an entrenched long-lasting force across the world that will continue to shape politics. Extant studies have found that RWP is linked with opposition to climate policy but has not come far in explaining this opposition. Diagnosing the opposition is necessary for facilitating a more constructive inclusion of these groups in climate policy debates.
In the nascent literature on the association between RWP and climate opposition, two different explanations have been suggested. A structuralist explanation points to a common cause for the two phenomena, namely structural changes in the global economy. The other explanation draws on the ideological content of RWP and argues that the effect of structural changes on climate policy attitudes is not direct, but rather mediated by RWP ideology.
WP1 of this project will design a survey to test the two explanations for RWP opposition to climate policy among voters across four countries (Australia, Germany, Norway, USA) and conduct mediation analysis.
WP2 will explore climate opposition among RWP parties and party fractions in the same countries. The two explanations will be tested through a combination of qualitative process tracing and quantitative content analysis.
WP3 will investigate the relative importance of privileged versus marginalized groups as drivers of RWP supporters’ opposition to climate policy. Different complementary analyses will be conducted, using data both from WP1 and WP2.
WP4 will explore how the strength of resistance from RWP supporters varies across different questions relating to climate science and policy and across time. It will draw on four years of data from a panel survey in Norway.
WP5 will integrate policy implications from the results of WP1-4, proposing ways to craft climate policies to be politically feasible despite increasing RWP opposition.