Mapping Networks of Denial and the Spread of Climate Skepticism in Europe – Evidence Form Germany

Monday, 16 July 2018: 19:42
Oral Presentation
Alexander RUSER, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany
Climate Skepticism and denial have been regarded as a US American phenomenon. Perhaps the one situation symbolizing the utter denial of climate change came in February 2015. Oklahoma Senator and author of the bestseller The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future Jim Inhofe tossed a snowball to the Senates Floor to ‘prove’ that climate change is a hoax. Senator Inhofe´s dramatic gesture not only got a lot of media attention but also set the stage for the next round in the ever more fierce controversy on climate politics in the US. The towering importance of conservative think tanks in creating the impression of scientific dissent and political dispute over the existence and the implications of anthropogenic climate change is well documented for the US. But also in Europe, self-appointed trailblazer in climate protection, climate skeptics are on the rise – not least due to the growing success of nationalist and climate sceptic parties in recent years like the democratic Unionist Party in the UK. With the latest electoral successes of right-wing party “Alternative for Germany” (AFD) a party made into the federal parliament that promises to abandon the decarbonizing the economy and to “remove the stigma of a pollutant from CO2” (AFD Manifesto 2016).

The rise of climate sceptic parties and their strategies to challenge scientific authority and the role of the media is beginning to influence climate skeptic action groups. The contribution outlines a conceptual framework for analyzing and provides some empirical evidence for mapping emerging networks of climate skepticism in Germany thus contributing to a better understanding of the prospects of climate skepticism and denial in Europe.