SCI workshop: Net Zero Populism

The SCI and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research hosted a workshop on ‘Net Zero Populism’ led by Mat Paterson, Stan Wilshire and Carly McLachlan.

Net Zero photo

The workshop saw academics from across the UK and the field of climate politics convene to discuss the findings of Mat Paterson’s SCI- and Tyndall-funded research project ‘Net Zero Populism’.

There are a number of ways in which the UK’s climate strategy and pursuit of net zero is being challenged. Some of these are around specific elements in the net zero package – heat pumps in domestic heating, Electric Vehicles transition strategies, low traffic neighbourhoods, land grabs for carbon offsets. These are generating concerns around injustice within the net zero transition (fuel poverty, etc.) as well as resistance because of cultural attachments to particular practices. But there is a broader mobilisation of populist forces against net zero itself, which in part strategically deploys these concerns about injustice. These forces are organised through remnants of UKIP/Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage, as well as the ‘net zero scrutiny’ group within parliament.

The SCI and Tyndall Centre developed preliminary research to examine the phenomenon of Net Zero Populism, understand it in relation to broader dynamics of climate change policymaking and politics, and evaluate its potential to undermine UK climate action. The aim of this generative workshop was to identify possibilities for both future expanded research on this theme and targeted interventions to highlight the risks posed by net zero populist backlash. Members of the SCI and Tyndall, who attended this workshop will now prepare a report for public consumption out of the preliminary research and workshop discussion.

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