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‘Bigger than Brexit’: Exploring right‐wing populism and net‐zero policies in the United Kingdom

Green Politics
Populism
Energy
P14

Thursday 15:00 - 16:30 (02/02/2023)


Abstract

Speaker: Ed Atkins, University of Bristol The emergence and consolidation of populist political movements have important consequences for renewable energy transitions – opposing infrastructure, denying climate science, or linking decarbonisation to broader antagonisms in society. The character of populist projects can change, absorbing new demands and grievances and linking them together within new narratives, policies, and forms of opposition. This paper explores one emergent change in the United Kingdom – tracing how right-wing populist politicians and commentators have linked net-zero policies to a cost-of-living crisis, characterising decarbonisation as an undemocratic pursuit, and affirming the need to accelerate policies that enable the fracking of natural gas. The potential proliferation of these narratives poses a challenge, with net-zero policies being further pulled into broader political debates. However, such narratives also demonstrate important complexities of net-zero policies in the UK, which may enable decarbonisation to gain further popular appeal – through being linked to government ‘levelling up’ agendas and broader policies of ‘green’ job creation