By: Akshaye Mavinkurve
A New Brew in Norway
In September 2021, Norway had its parliamentary election in which the labour party got the plurality of votes i.e., have the most number of votes without reaching a majority. The Labour party is discussing a coalition pact with centre and far left parties to create a left wing coalition, however labour can form a minority government.
One of the main issues of this election was Norway’s environment policy and its role in extracting petroleum. The labour party will be dealing with demands from the far left parties to end all petroleum exploration and drilling as early as possible while the centre left parties want to continue with drilling. The fallout from the stopping of petroleum drilling is the loss of stable and well paying jobs which is what makes the issue an issue that requires a lot of discussion. The Sovereign fund of Norway is nearly 1.5 trillion dollars, most of the wealth of the fund comes from Norway’s oil and gas industry thus the labour party and their potential allies would face opposition in regards to its efforts to cut back on Norway’s oil and gas industry. The labour party is also committed to use the sovereign wealth fund to invest in companies that engage in helping the environmental cause.
What’s at stake in Norway?
The Oil and Gas industry is one of Norway’s largest industries and comprises 42% of their exports and is one of the biggest employers in Norway with about 150,000 employees. Despite a growing public consensus for environment policy reform, the demands from the pro-environment parties to end drilling and oil exploration at the earliest would face a lot of constraints due to the size of the Oil and Gas industry in Norway. However, environment oriented parties such as the green party would argue that the clean energy sector would produce more jobs, safer in terms of occupational hazard and job stability and with similar or marginally higher wages than the Oil and Gas industry. The Green Technology industry in Norway has been growing and will continue to create good economic opportunities, especially if the new government uses the sovereign fund to invest in these companies.
Javad Parsa/INTB/PIcture Alliance
The Sun sets on Merkel
The recent floods in Germany and Belgium were a shock to Western Europe, it was one of the rare occasions that the continent faced the consequences of exploitation of the climate. There is a scientific consensus that floods as devastating as what happened in Germany and Belgium becomes a norm as we continue to engage in activities that disrupt the ecological system. It is not only the political establishment that is committed to meet the goals of the Paris agreement but now it is gaining popularity among the electorate. The recent elections in Germany show that Angela Merkel’s Center-right coalition lost their majority in the Bundestag for the first time since getting the majority since 2005. What is even more unique to this election is the huge gains received by the German Green Party. The Green Party is a left wing, environment oriented party that is an active political organisation in Western Europe and North America more popularly.
The party is usually in the periphery of political discourse and it is considered as a fringe political party with a fringe political movement. While it is still early to make any predictions for a rising Green Party movement around the world, as we start facing the setbacks of the climate crisis, the Green Party and their ideas are moving into mainstream discourse which would result in growing electoral significance. While in Norway, the party gained only two more seats, in Germany it gained a massive 51 seats. These two elections have been an indicator of a growing left wing movement centered around environmental policy reform as the right wing populism and austerity administration continue to lose the trust of the public.
Climate Change became one of the most important issues of the campaign due to the floods that destroyed communities in Germany and Belgium. The floods not only tipped the election to the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) party but also the public opinion to demand more from the government to combat climate change. The SPD have received the plurality of votes and are in negotiations to form a coalition with the green party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) party which is the liberal party.
Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images
There is still a lot of work to do but public sentiment on tackling climate change is changing. As the youth of the world start to slowly consolidate electoral influence from older voters, the rhetoric of political parties will change to meet the demands of the electorate. Global warming is a danger for the entire world, it is a priority for the working population and the youth who are slowly gaining electoral significance. It is also pivotal for political parties to meet the rhetorical and policy demands of the youth and to fight climate change with more aggressive and proactive policies.