Decarbonization and Populism

Policy Brief | March 2023


Carbon-intensive industries are concentrated in a few carbon-intensive regions in Europe. Decarbonization
actions will affect those regions particularly strongly. Correspondingly, carbon-intensive regions often exert
significant political influence on decarbonization policies and actions both at the national and regional levels.
Populist far-right parties, for instance, remain potent players delaying rapid energy transition in the carbon-
intensive regions of Europe. This policy brief focuses on three countries, namely Estonia, Germany and Poland,
and the populist far-right parties’ discursive-institutional influence on the regional decarbonization strategies of
the respective carbon-intensive regions. We present evidence of how populist far-right parties in these countries
politicize decarbonization by infusing false and inaccurate information, disinformation and attacking institutions
that could accelerate regional decarbonization. This policy brief emphasizes the importance of understanding
populist far-right discursive-institutional tactics to prevent politicization of decarbonization and climate change at
the regional level and ensure effective policy implementation of national and international climate policies.