Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Nexus Between Green Backlash and Democratic Backsliding in Europe
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress analyzes how far-right parties are exploiting discontent with environmental policies, undermining progress on climate change, and endangering democracy in Europe and beyond.

The report highlights recent instances where rising far-right populism, threats to democracy, and growing resistance to climate policies have intersected in Europe. It offers country-specific case studies that show how the nature and strength of Europe’s green backlash span a continuum—from adverse reactions to specific environmental policies to the spread of misinformation and disinformation about these policies. In some cases, it has culminated in the far-right’s capture of government, a development that often contributes to the erosion of democratic institutions.

The report offers insights into how democratic societies can grapple with populist anti-environmental challenges. It shows the importance of balanced and inclusive approaches to climate governance, underscoring the critical need for a persistent and thoughtful push for progressive environmental policies. Such efforts are vital not only to sustain environmental achievements but also to avert democratic backsliding, a threat to the core principles of equitable and just climate policy.

Policy recommendations include:

  • Enhancing public communication to disseminate clear, accurate information about environmental policies
  • Supporting and advocating for inclusive policymaking to ensure that environmental initiatives are equitable, a strategy exemplified by the inclusive approaches of the Inflation Reduction Act
  • Strengthening democratic institutions and civil society engagement to focus on fostering transparency and participation in environmental decision-making
  • Building an investment-forward approach to direct funds and resources toward emerging and sustainable technologies that may not yet be cost-competitive to help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy

Read the report: “The Nexus Between Green Backlash and Democratic Backsliding in Europe” by Robert Benson, Anne Christianson, Courtney Federico, and Kate Petosa

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org.

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