• Solvej Dam Karlslund
  • Simon Holst Jensen
4. term, European Studies, Master (Master Programme)
Climate change policies have never occupied a larger role in European politics than today, however,
there are disagreements about the framing of the discourse on the evolving matter. Right-wing
Euroscepticism has progressed within recent years. Similarly, has the debate on climate change
climbed up the international political agenda and now occupies a significant position in EU politics.
Current research shows that right-wing Euroscepticism has been connected to populism and
hostility towards climate change policies. Research also shows that populism has been found to
arise in times of crisis, especially to be utilised for political gain. As climate change has been
described as a crisis by scientists, and as it grows in salience within European politics, an analysis
of the interrelation between populist crisis performance, climate change discourse and the
Eurosceptic right-wing is warranted. This thesis investigates if and how Members of the European
Parliament, who belong to the Eurosceptic right-wing, utilise populist speech in their framing of the
discourse on climate change as a crisis. In this thesis, the linkages between the Eurosceptic rightwing,
the discourse on climate change in the European Parliament, and populist crisis performance
are analysed. Based on these observations, we seek to answer how right-wing Eurosceptic MEPs
frame the climate change crisis discourse through populist speech. To answer this research question,
a critical discourse analysis of the right-wing Eurosceptic MEPs’ statements in plenary debates
related to the European Green Deal, inspired by Norman Fairclough’s method, is conducted. The
analysis relies on Benjamin Moffitt’s theoretical framework on populist crisis performance, assisted
by Paul Taggart’s theory on populist themes. The results show that rather than performing climate
change as a crisis, the Members of the European Parliament tone down the urgency of climate
change. Instead, they identify and elevate another issue to a crisis, namely the social and economic
effects of the European Green Deal. Based on the analytical framework, the statements analysed are
found to be characterised as populist. These findings contribute to the literature on populist actors
and highlight the relevance of framing discourses in international politics.
Publication date3 Jan 2021
Number of pages79
ID: 397825529