World Norway's 'Climate Election' Showed Voters Want Change. But Are They Ready to Give Up Oil?
Norway's center-left Labour begins coalition talks as anti-oil Greens sidelined
Labour has not ruled out talks with the Greens -- the only party calling for a complete end to fossil fuel exploration -- but said it was likely to form an alliance with other parties.Norway's main opposition Labour Party is beginning coalition talks to form a government Tuesday after the ruling Conservatives lost their command in parliamentary elections and the anti-oil Greens failed to win enough seats to become the potential kingmaker.
Norwegian voters delivered a clear result when they went to the polls Monday in what has been dubbed the “.” Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s right-wing coalition government will be out of power after eight years, and the climate crisis is firmly on the agenda.
Jonas Gahr Støre’s center-left Labor Party came away with 48 of 169 seats, meaning he will likely be leading the next government. Støre celebrated what he called voters’ desire for “change.” But, it’s less clear exactly what form that change will take for western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer.
Not easy voting green: Germans wary of getting climate bill
HALLE, Germany (AP) — It's a scorching September day and the Green party candidate hoping to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor leaps on stage in front of hundreds of supporters for what should be a home run. Surveys show climate change is among the top concerns for many voters, and the audience in the eastern city of Halle is made up largely of students and retirees eager to hear how Annalena Baerbock plans to safeguard their future — or that of their grandchildren. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Friday, July 16, 2021 file photo the 'Lebenshilfe-Haus' (Life Assistant Building) home for the disabled is pictured in Sinzig, Germany.
Støre now faces complex discussions with other left-leaning parties to form a coalition government. Climate policy is set to be a major point of contention between Labor’s preferred coalition partners. While the Socialist Left have campaigned to end further oil exploration, the more free-market Center Party wants to uphold the status quo.
Breaking up with oil and gas was always going to be difficult for the owner of the world’s largest—valued at $1.4 trillion. North Sea oil and gas, which accounts for 14% of Norway’s GDP, 40% of exports, and employs 7% of its workforce, has made the country one of the richest in the world, by GDP per capita.
Yet, Norwegians also pride themselves on being environmentally conscious. How they choose to deal with this contradiction—and balance the needs for economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic—will offer clues about whether European voters are willing to make the hard choices on climate change.
Climate change dominates elections in oil-rich Norway
Oil-rich Norway goes to the polls on Monday in elections dominated by climate change that the ruling Conservative party is widely expected to lose to a Labour-led coalition. - Black gold - Though Store's own Labour party is expected to put in a poor showing at the polls, he should be able to take the election with the help of his allies, primarily the agrarian Centre Party and Socialist Left. It remains to be seen whether the three parties will win a majority, or have to rely on support from the communist Rodt party and the Green MDG party.The Greens have called for an immediate halt to oil exploration and an end to production by 2035.
“Oil and gas have always been the elephant in the room,” Fay Farstad, senior research fellow at CICERO Center for International Climate Research, a Norwegian climate research center, says. “This level of public debate on oil and gas in Norway is new in itself.”
Climate policy: Not just for Greens anymore
The release on Aug. 9 of the 2021 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which predicted “unprecedented” and “irreversible” changes to the planet as a result of human activity, forced Norwegian voters to confront the consequences of their multi-billion-dollar industry.
In the month leading up to the September election, climate dominated the agenda on televised debates and national news. Along with inequality, the climate crisis was one of thefor voters, according to a poll by Aftenposten, Norway’s largest print newspaper. Shortly after the publication of the IPCC report, the anti-oil Green Party experienced a membership increase of nearly one-third.
Climate change: Australia is shaping up to be the villain of COP26 talks in Glasgow
If Australia's allies were worried that the country might cause them problems at upcoming climate talks in Glasgow, the past week of events should leave little doubt in their minds. It will. © Lukas Coch/AP Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, on Sept. 9, 2021. The government confirmed it refused to allow climate change goals to be written into a proposed free trade deal with Britain, as pressure mounts on Australia to make more ambitious commitments to cut carbon emissions.
“What’s interesting is that that hasn’t automatically translated into a massive increase [in vote share] for the Greens,” Farstad says. Exit polls show the Greens won three seats, up from one in the previous election.
“But precisely because it’s been high on the agenda, a lot of parties have been competing on the issue of climate change and they’ve been taking it seriously,” he adds. “Climate change voters have spread out more, not just voting for the Green Party or Socialist Left Party.”
Aby Ipsos MORI into public perception of climate change, which conducted 1,000 interviews in four major European countries, found that climate change is not seen as a left-right issue in Norway, unlike in countries such as the U.S. and Australia.
The issue is less whether voters care enough about climate change, but more the effect of winding down oil production on quality of life, Farstad says.
“Inequality, and the urban-rural divide, are very bound up in the climate change question,” she says. “Stricter climate change measures could disproportionately hit poorer families, particularly people in rural areas who are more dependent on employment in the fossil fuel industry.”
Norwegians begin voting in election centred on oil, equality
Norwegians begin voting in election centred on oil, equalityOSLO (Reuters) - Norwegians went to the polls on Sunday for the first of two days of voting in a parliamentary election dominated by the widening gap between rich and poor, climate change and how the oil-producing nation should adapt to the energy transition.
According to the Norwegian government, the proportion of Norwegian children living in low-income households grew from 3.3% in 2001 to 11.7% in 2019. Salaries have failed to increase at the rate of house prices, which have risen sixfold in 30 years.
Støre carried Labor to victory campaigning on tax increases for the wealthiest Norwegians and tax relief for low and middle income families.
Norway’s ‘cognitive dissonance’
A 2021of 30,000 people in Europe, the U.S. and China by the European Investment Bank found that European respondents believed COVID-19 has surpassed climate change as the biggest threat to their countries.
Yet, climate remains a pressing issue. At the U.N. COP26 conference in November this year, countries will be expected to strengthen their commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to keep the rise in mean global temperature below 2°C.
Other European countries are facing a political reckoning with the climate crisis. On Sept. 26, Germany will choose a new government. The Green Party, which put forward its first ever candidate for chancellor, is expected to jump from the sixth to third largest party in the Bundestag, Germany’s federal legislature. While thetheir rise in popularity is a sign of a shift in climate discourse similar to that seen in Norway.
Climate, wealth gap in focus as Norway go to polls
Climate, wealth gap in focus as Norway go to pollsOSLO (Reuters) - Norway votes this weekend after a national election campaign dominated by climate change and a widening wealth gap, though whoever wins seems certain to ensure the country's transition away from oil - and the jobs it creates - is a gradual one.
Experts say Norway has a complicated relationship with the environment. The Ipsos survey found that Norwegians value their image of their country as nature-oriented and sustainable—57% of the respondents agreed that being environmentally friendly is an important part of being Norwegian. A leader in green energy, 98% of electricity production in the country comes from.
Yet, while Norway produces close to zero emissions from power production, it is responsible for high emissions from oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. Of course, those fossil fuels also produce enormous emissions when they are used by other countries—Norway is the third largest exporter of natural gases in the world, behind Russia and Qatar. The Ipsos survey describes Norwegians’ simultaneous support for the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries as “cognitive dissonance.”
In Norway’s case, it could be the smaller, more radical parties that may influence the new government’s climate strategy. The communist Red party with eight seats, up from one, and the Greens with three, could offer major support to the Labor party in an extended coalition government.
“They’ll be breathing down the Socialist Left Party’s neck and pushing them hard [on climate],” Farstad said.
The campaign group Greenpeace Norway is hopeful the election will yield positive results for the country’s climate change policy. “Of course, we would have hoped for an even greener parliament,” Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, told TIME. “The Labor Party and the center party by and large want to continue business as usual, so it depends how powerful the Socialist Left pocket in the coalition will become.”
A 2020 U.N. Human Rights Councilon Norway said there was no room for further oil exploration and called for a complete overhaul of the emission-producing fossil fuel industry.
“The stage is now set for Norway to take further steps to cut emissions, these steps have so far been too small, too few and consistently too late,” Pleym said. “As a major oil producing nation, Norway has a great responsibility to the world.”
Los Angeles County votes to phase out oil and gas drilling .
Los Angeles County supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to phase out oil and gas drilling and ban new drill sites in the unincorporated areas of the nation's most populous county. Over 1,600 active and idle oil and gas wells in the county could be shuttered after the 5-0 vote by the board of supervisors. A timetable for the phaseout will be decided after the county determines the fastest way to legally shut down the wells. Among the sites isOver 1,600 active and idle oil and gas wells in the county could be shuttered after the 5-0 vote by the board of supervisors. A timetable for the phaseout will be decided after the county determines the fastest way to legally shut down the wells.