Many citizens are sceptical of policies implemented to mitigate climate change. Existing research shows that citizens’ populist beliefs are significant determinants of climate scepticism. However, little is known about the underlying factors driving populist opposition to climate policies. To address this gap in the literature, this study develops structural equation models with new ideological measures using a high-quality probability sample of Dutch citizens (2019). The findings show that the relationship between populist attitudes and climate policy opposition is mediated through two anti-elite dispositions: the idea that climate science is unreliable and the belief that politicians exploit climate change for political gain. This relationship holds for left- and right-wing individuals alike. Moreover, a replication of a recent study shows that these findings hold alongside mechanisms rooted in institutional trust. These findings provide important evidence that populists’ opposition to climate policy is principally rooted in distrust in political and scientific elites.