In collaboration with RUSI’s Far-Right Extremism and Terrorism (FRET) Programme, this research explores the many forms of climate activism and protest. In recent years, increasingly radical forms of demonstration such as ‘eco-dissent’, exemplified by Extinction Rebellion, have posed new challenges to policing efforts. Meanwhile, some far-right actors have shifted from climate change denial to climate ‘delayism’, and are embracing climate change for their own agendas, such as blaming environmental degradation on immigration and overpopulation, thereby strengthening xenophobic narratives. Separately, the ‘eco-terrorist’ label has recently experienced a revival, as it is increasingly used to describe climate activists who are intensifying their activities to force governments to address the climate crisis.
Against this backdrop, our research explores narratives such as how the criminalisation of peaceful forms of climate-related protest may result in activists resorting to more violent and radical forms of protest. We also consider how different elements of the far right engage with climate change and the natural environment in different parts of the world, and how the use of the term ‘eco-terrorism’ has evolved over time – with it sometimes being used as a politically expedient label by those looking to delegitimise groups calling for stronger action on climate change.
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This programme of work looks at potential drivers and modalities for the spread of violent ideologies.