The World Today for September 13, 2021



Eco Election

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg might become the first top politician to be ousted due to climate change.

Polls forecast that Solberg and her Conservative Party will lose the Sept. 13 general election in the Scandinavian country to Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Stoere and other leftwing parties by a margin of two to one, Reuters wrote.

Profiled in EUObserver as an old hand in Norwegian politics, Stoere has been appealing to the “common people” on the campaign trail. He has promised to lower taxes for low- and middle-income voters who have faced disruptions and higher prices due to the pandemic, hike taxes on the richest Norwegians, stop privatizing government services, spend more money on hospitals and renegotiate the country’s economic relationship with the European Union. (Norway is not a member of the EU, as this Norwegian government website explained.)

The real forces driving Stoere and his leftwing associates’ expected success stem not from their big agenda but from voters’ growing concerns about climate change and Norway’s most important industry – oil.

The United Nations climate change report published on Aug. 9 gave the leftists a political present. Describing a coming era of worse storms, greater temperature swings and other climate change phenomena as a “code red for humanity,” the report has led many voters to question Norwegian oil’s role in making the planet less hospitable, as the Financial Times noted.

Environmental awareness is widespread in Norway. Even Conservatives agree that the country must wean itself off oil. They have proposed tax changes that would make oil exploration more expensive, for example. But the country’s oil sector employs 160,000 people and makes up a whopping 42 percent of exports.

The issue has become intertwined with tax policy and social inequity.

Norway weathered the economic tsunami of the coronavirus pandemic fairly well because it is a major oil exporter, Bloomberg wrote. But the Conservatives, saying oil and the revenues it generates won’t last forever, have proposed reducing the wealth tax to incentivize Norwegians to invest and establish new businesses. Stoere, in contrast, has proposed increasing wealth taxes to shore up the country’s finances and, by extension, its social safety net.

Leftwing politicians have been choosing their words carefully when confronting the oil industry.

“The most important thing we have to do for the people who work in the oil and gas industry is to increase the speed of creating more renewable energy industries, so they have jobs to go to,” Labor Deputy Leader Hadia Tajik told Reuters.

It’s hard when the golden goose is a political straw man.

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