What Does “Environmental Populism” Mean?

Mapping the Existing Debate and a Plea for Dropping this Label

In: Populism
Umberto Mario Sconfienza Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) Esch-sur-Alzette Luxembourg

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The current article brings together and reviews the literature on “environmental populism”; that is, environmental issues that could be explored through a populist frame. The article reviews four different cases of environmental populism: (i) right-wing populism and climate denial, (ii) resource populism, (iii) eco-populism, and (iv) the populism of environmental movements. For each case, the article analyzes how different theories of populism explain the environmental issues under consideration and how the environment is constructed. Lastly, the article argues that these four different cases only share very abstract features between them, and greater clarity would be gained by dropping the “environmental populism” label altogether in favor of “environmental populisms,” in the plural.

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