Unpacking the right-populist threat to climate action: Poland’s pro-governmental media on energy transition and climate change

Authors: Piotr Żuk and Kacper Szulecki

Type: Journal Article

Publised in: Energy Research and Social Science (2020), DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101485


Is populist politics a threat to ambitious climate action and decarbonisation of energy systems? With the coinciding challenges of an alleged global ‘populist wave,’ and the growing visibility of a planetary climate crisis, this issue has gained relevance. While theoretical literature on the links between populism and climate action is growing, there is still little empirical evidence regarding the ways in which the thin ideology of populism can interact with climate policy in practice (particularly in the context of Eastern Europe). We look into this black box, by analyzing the Polish right-wing populist media discourses on energy and climate. Poland is widely perceived as a laggard in European climate policy and energy transition, seeking to safeguard domestic coal as a major energy source and opposing ambitious decarbonisation goals. At the same time, since 2015 it has seen a right-wing populist government in power, making it a very interesting case for an analysis of the interaction of populist politics and climate action. Using four key elements of populist political rhetoric as a framework (a populist episteme, Manichean good and evil connotations and internal enemies) we organize the arguments distilled from a wide reading of pro-governmental right-wing Polish media, to illustrate the content of populist climate and energy discourse, seeing some of the tropes found in our case as generalizable to other national contexts.

Keywords

Law and justice (PiS)Right-wing populismEnergy transitionClimate policyClimate scepticismRight media

Piotr Żuk, Kacper Szulecki, ‘Unpacking the right-populist threat to climate action: Poland’s pro-governmental media on energy transition and climate change’, Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 66, 2020, 101485, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101485.


Unpacking the right-populist threat to climate action: Poland’s pro-governmental media on energy transition and climate change

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