Climate Backlash: Contentious reactions to policy action (BACKLASH)


Welcome to the website of the project:  Climate Backlash: Contentious reactions to policy action (BACKLASH).

This project studies the emergence and dynamics of volatile social-political reactions to climate policy. In recent years we have seen a variety of examples of climate policy being ‘pushed back’ after being introduced (e.g. policy repeals, protests and social mobilisations) — although this does not always happen.

In coming years, climate action must become more demanding to reach the globally-agreed goals of the Paris Agreement. Yet, many societies are also polarised. At the same time, new policy agendas such as the ‘Green (New) Deals’ being debated in Europe and the United States, potentially offer new opportunities for transformative climate action.

We need to learn from past experiences of climate policy enactment, particularly instances of ‘backlash’ to policy action, in order to create socially-robust climate policy. This is crucial for advancing ambitious climate action that stimulates effective and equitable societal transformations.


The BACKLASH project is led by dr. James Patterson, Assistant Professor in the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development. This project is funded for five years (2021-2026) through a Starting Grant awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 949332).