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Sweden: Environmental Sociology Climate Change Denial and Right-Wing Ideology

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

Building on a recent research publication showing the links between conservatism, xenophobia and climate change denial, the world’s first global research network into climate change denial will study how the growth of right-wing nationalism in Europe has contributed to an increase in climate change denial.

Climate change denial strongly linked to right-wing nationalism, Swedish study finds.
Climate change denial strongly linked to right-wing nationalism, Swedish study finds.
(Source: Pixabay / CC0 )

Gothenburg/Sweden — Scientific awareness of the greenhouse effect, and human influence on the climate has existed for over three decades. But in recent years, climate change denial — denying that changes to the climate are due to human influence on the environment — has increased. According to Chalmers researcher Martin Hultman, Associate Professor in Science, Technology and Environmental studies, two strong groups have joined forces on this issue — the extractive industry, and right-wing nationalists.

The scientists is the research leader for the comprehensive project: “Why don’t we take climate change seriously? A study of climate change denial”, which is now collecting the world’s foremost researchers in this area. In the project, the network will examine the ideas and interests behind climate change denial, with a particular focus on right-wing nationalism, extractive industries, and conservative think tanks. The goal is to increase understanding of climate change denial, and its influence on political decision-making, but also to raise awareness among the general public, those in power, research institutes, and industry.

Hultman explains that many of the right-wing nationalist parties in Europe now have climate change denial as one of their most important issues. Through the new research project, a unique international collaborative platform for research into climate change denial, Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (Ceforced), will be established, which will connect around 40 of the world’s foremost scientific experts in the area and pave the way for international comparisons. The platform builds upon the world’s first conference in the subject, which Hultman and Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University organized in 2016.

An important foundation of the project will be a broad, interdisciplinary view of climate change denial, linking together different disciplines such as geopolitics, environmental psychology, technological history, environmental sociology, gender research, environmental history, energy policy, environmental humanism and technology and science studies.

Global Research Network on Climate Change Denial

The project “Why don’t we take climate change seriously? A study of climate change denial” is a multi-year, interdisciplinary and international project, which is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency.

The project establishes the world’s first research network on climate change denial – the Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (Ceforced), which includes around 40 scientific experts, including among others, professor Riley Dunlap, Oklahoma State University.

The project shall investigate right-wing nationalism, Conservative think tanks, and extractive industries as key focus. The study also examines different forms of climate change denial, including organized groups such as Klimatsans (Climate Sense) or Stockholmsinitiativet (The Stockholm Initiative) in Sweden, as well as lobby groups like the Heartland Institute in the USA, which support and spread climate change denial, but also everyday denial like when people act as though as they are unaware of climate change, and, for example, fly several times a year to foreign countries.