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Climate Populisms – Challenging the Future of Liberal Democracy?

Artikel vom 23.10.2020

In recent years, populist movements on both sides of the aisle have gained followers and, in some cases, power. Often, the issue of climate change is of particular importance in their rhetoric, whether it is to deny its existence or demand much more decisive action. Will climate change become the “issue of our time” that (re-)defines the future of liberal democracy?

Informationen zur Veranstaltung

Beginn: 16.11.2020 | 19:00 Uhr

Ende: 16.11.2020 | 21:00 Uhr

Populism on the rise

In recent years, right-wing populists around the world have seriously challenged the universal narrative of climate change. They mobilize against mitigation efforts and argue that these efforts go against the interest of “the people”. In contrast, scholars like Chantal Mouffe but also representatives from movements like Fridays for Future see the current struggle as an opportunity to reclaim populism and deepen democratic debates about broader societal changes linked to issues like climate action.

The panel discussion, organised by the University of Darmstadt and the Schader-Foundation, focussed on these dual movements. Our discussion investigated the chances and risks these various forms of climate populism entail: How important is climate change for populists around the world? Have right-wing populists slowed down mitigation efforts? Is populism from the left a chance for legitimizing new climate movements? How well do local, national and global institutions deal with the populist challenge? What effect does (the threat of) populist decision making have on enterprises and whole sectors? Will climate change become the “issue of our time” that (re-)defines the future of liberal democracy?

Our panellists were:

  • Karin Bäckstrand, Professor in Environmental Social Science at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University
  • Philipp Ellett, Climate Protection, German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) 
  • Teresa Kramarz, Associate Professor at Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
  • Veith Selk, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political Science, Technical University Darmstadt

Moderated by Jens Marquardt, Stockholm University & Karen Lehmann, Schader-Foundation


The panel discussion was streamed online.