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Abstract

With the progress of the 21st century, climate change and environmentalism have risen to become key issues for people across the world. Many protests and movements have taken hold, both nationally and internationally, calling for strong climate action and reform to battle anthropogenic impact on nature. Yet, the green movement has translated into somewhat fractured representations in international political spheres. Where some countries possess weak and powerless green parties, others have long-standing and influential green forces. Among those of the latter are New Zealand and Lithuania, a peculiar duo on the world stage. Both have green parties with long histories—New Zealand’s, in fact, being the successor to the world’s first national green party. Most importantly, each of these small nations boasts a green party with significant political power. The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand currently works alongside the governing Labour Party in a “cooperation agreement,” which has provided the Greens with two ministers in addition to influence on the government’s policies. In Lithuania, the Farmers and Greens Union (Lietuvos valstiečių ir žaliųjų sąjunga, LVŽS) first served in government coalitions from 2001-2008 under three separate cabinets. Then, the 2016 general election saw a shock victory for LVŽS, garnering the most seats and propelling them to government formation under the Skvernelis Cabinet (2016-2020). However, with both the New Zealand Greens and LVŽS touting significant victories, there do exist substantial differences; most importantly, the former prescribes to the left-wing while the latter constitutes the centre-right and “green conservatism.” This is a trend that can be seen across the world, with various environmentalists finding their niche on the ideological spectrum. Numerous countries possess powerful green conservative parties—such as Mexico, Latvia, and Denmark in addition to Lithuania. Others, however, retain the movement’s left wing, as in France, the Netherlands, the USA, and many others. Some have even trod the middle ground, prescribing to “green liberalism” as in Switzerland, Uruguay, Finland, and others. The success of environmentalism’s three corners has varied wildly, with some parties rising into government while others remain lowly opposition. However, can the movement survive when it is fractured? Must its platform remain unified, or can green politics settle with both left and right? I hypothesize that while both wings of environmental action pursue important green policies, green conservatism in particular finds itself at odds with many foundational policies of the broader environmental movement; as a result, green conservatism should perhaps not be considered a subset of green politics, but rather as conservatism with an acceptance of the climate crisis. Instead, left-wing green politics is most representative of what the movement, scientists, and leading diplomats are advocating as solutions to climate change.

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