'Bigger than Brexit': Exploring right-wing populism and net-zero policies in the United Kingdom  

Ed Atkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


The emergence and consolidation of populist political movements have important consequences for renewable energy transitions – opposing infrastructure, denying climate science, or linking decarbonisation to broader antagonisms in society. The character of populist projects can change, absorbing new demands and grievances and linking them together within new narratives, policies, and forms of opposition. This commentary explores one emergent change in the United Kingdom – tracing how right-wing populist politicians and commentators have linked net-zero policies to a cost-of-living crisis, characterising decarbonisation as an undemocratic pursuit, and affirming the need to accelerate policies that enable the fracking of natural gas. The potential proliferation of these narratives poses a challenge, with net-zero policies being further pulled into broader political debates. However, such narratives also demonstrate important complexities of net-zero policies in the UK, which may enable decarbonisation to gain further popular appeal – through being linked to government ‘levelling up’ agendas and broader policies of ‘green’ job creation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102681
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date6 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful for the attentive, constructive comments from those who reviewed this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Right-wing populism
  • Net-Zero
  • Decarbonisation
  • Cost-of-living
  • UK
  • Twitter


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