Debate flies over climate proposals

Bookmark and Share

Some strict proposals to help stop climate change have met plenty of criticism since their introduction last month. Some support is finally emerging, but new polls indicate that roughly half of all Norwegians now think the climate threat is exaggerated.

One of the coldest, stormiest winters in decades is finally easing its grip on Norway and that may have affected public opinion. It’s easy to forget the threat of global warming when average daily temperatures haven’t risen above the freezing point since mid-December.

A poll conducted by analysis firm YouGov for newsletter Mandag morgen questioned 1,006 persons over age 15 in Norway. Half now believe the climate threat is exaggerated, and 25 percent said they’d changed their minds about the climate threat in the past year. They now think it’s “less dangerous” than earlier. The poll also showed that more men than women question the threat of climate change.

That worries environmental activists like Frederic Hauge of Bellona. “These are scary numbers, but they often go in waves,” he told newspaper Dagsavisen. “There’s been so much noise about the climate talks in Copenhagen.” He hopes the Norwegian government will work hard to put climate issues back at the top of their political agenda.

“If the government doesn’t take the climate problem seriously, then many others don’t either,” Hauge said.

Drastic measures
Last month, the state agency in charge of climate and pollution (Klima- og forurensingsdirektoratet) delivered a report to Environment Minister Erik Solheim which proposed some harsh measures for cutting carbon emissions. Their so-called “Climate Cure” includes doubling the price of fuel for personal cars (already as much as USD 8 a gallon in Norway), doubling tolls in and out of Norway’s major cities to further discourage driving, and doubling the price of airline tickets. 

These measures weren’t entirely popular but are among scores of proposals, some not so drastic. While opposition politicians claim the current left-center coalition government has been too slow to adopt new climate measures, a doctoral candidate in Oslo wrote in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that she thinks the public is ready for them.

“People are waiting,” wrote Ragnhild Haugli Bråten, of the Frisch Center in Oslo. “Many don’t think the public is ready for drastic measures, but I think they’re wrong.”

Bråten claims her research shows people want measures that would make it possible and profitable to live in a “climate friendly” manner. A pure lack of political will can make people less certain about the climate threat, she said. 

“They need to show good leadership and put into practice the best, most effective proposals,” she argued. Solheim, meanwhile, didn’t take any immediate positions on the “Climate Cure” proposals, sending them out to hearing first.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Join our Forum if you’d like to comment on this story.