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“Don’t confuse me with facts”—how right wing populism affects trust in agencies advocating anthropogenic climate change as a reality

February 17, 2022

A survey study conducted by CSSN Scholar Martin Hultman finds that a lack of trust in environmental institutions amongst the Norwegian public are strongly associated with denial of anthropogenically caused climate change (ACC). This denial is further heightened by socio-demographic characteristics, attitudes toward elites and immigration, and ecocentric views of nature, among other factors.

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Everyday public denial of anthropogenically caused climate change (ACC) has complex antecedents and exists on both individual and institutional levels. Earlier research has linked ACC denial to opposition to formal science and elites, perceived threats to the industrialist capitalist order and existing system properties. Research also suggest that trust in public organizations is a key factor in determining support or opposition to climate change policies. In this paper, we explore the possibility that right wing populism and anti-elitist attitudes fuel both ACC denial and low trust in environmental institutions. We surveyed a representative sample of Norwegians (N = 3032) to measure ACC denial, how denial is linked to socio-demographic characteristics, trust in environmental institutions, attitudes toward elites and immigration, as well as environmental attitude orientations. Results show that lack of trust in environmental institutions is strongly associated with ACC denial, and furthermore that the degree of trust—or lack thereof—is partly a function of anti-elitist attitudes, opposition to migration and views of nature.

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