Climate change and right wing populism

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Torstai 10.8.2023 klo 11:18 - Mikko Nikinmaa

With the hottest July ever in the world, heat spells in all continents of the northern hemisphere simultaneously, devastating wildfires, floods and droughts everywhere, one would think that people would finally accept that climate change is here already, and that mankind needs to put significant effort into preventing it from getting worse.

But no, in the minds of right-wing populists, climate change is left-wing hoax. No matter what the evidence says, no matter what the news are, no matter what the scientists say. In USA the conservative thinktank Heritage Foundation has given out a book Project 25, which would essentially scrap all the climate plans of the present government if a Republican president were elected in 2024. Needless to say that it would be a catastrophe for world’s climate, as USA is one of the countries with the greatest carbon dioxide emissions per capita. As compared to European Union, the emissions per person are roughly double, and as compared to world average more than four times greater. (Because of its large population, China is the country with the largest emissions in the world. However, its per capita emissions are about the same as EU’s). Similarly, the Finnish populistic right wing party – presently in government – has opposed “the green shift” of energy production and industrial production claiming that it is too expensive for the taxpayer. At the same time, the calculations of industry show that “green shift” would generate unprecedent amount of foreign investments in Finland. These examples indicate that right-wing populism has started treating climate change as “culture war” issue. To support actions against climate change makes you to belong to the left (or greens which is just as bad).

Because climate has become an issue in culture war, little can be done to change the opinions of right-wing populists. The only way to prevent the devastating implications their policy actions is to make sure that they cannot rise to power, or if they are in power, to make sure that they lose the power in next elections.

Avainsanat: culture war, green shift, carbon dioxide footprint

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