The unbearable lightness of climate populism

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This paper focuses on what I refer to as Climate Populism and how this structures not only many radical climate movements but also the liberal climate consensus. I argue that the architecture of most mainstream as well as more radical climate discourses, practices, and policies is strictly parallel to that of populist discourses and should be understood as an integral part of a pervasive and deepening process of post-politicization. Mobilising a process that psychoanalysts call ‘fetishistic disavowal’, the climate discourse produces a particular form of populism that obscures the power relations responsible for the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. I shall mobilise a broadly Lacanian-Marxist theoretical perspective that permits accounting for this apparently paradoxical condition of both acknowledging and denying the truth of the climate situation, and the discourses/practices that sustain this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Early online date15 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022


  • Climate Populism
  • Lacanian analysis
  • critical environmental theory
  • environmental discourse
  • political theory


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