Norway’s left-wing opposition headed by Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre has had a landslide win in a general election after a campaign dominated by the future of the country’s oil industry.
Store unseated a center-right coalition on Monday headed by Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, which had been in power since 2013.
Norway’s center-left was the clear winner as voting ended after yesterday’s parliamentary election. Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre will work in the coming days and weeks to form the next government, ruling either in a minority or in a coalition with other parties. His victory means that, for the first time since 1959, all five Nordic countries will have a center-left prime minister.
“There is now potential for change,” Poppy Kalesi, an energy expert based in Rogaland, an oil and gas-rich region in the south-west of the country, says cautiously. She, like many others in Norway, credits the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report in August for the shift in attitude. “In the last two months, the conversation has moved more than in the last two years,” she comments.
Nonetheless, Kalesi is “not expecting to see anything radical” in the next four years. “We are a very democratic country and will now take time to build a consensus for the transition.”
There should be “no further investment in new fossil fuel supply projects” if a global net-zero emissions target is to be met by 2050, insisted the International Energy Agency in May. Similarly, a paper published in the science journal Nature on 8 September concluded that nearly 60 per cent of the world’s oil supplies must stay in the ground if the world is to have a 50 per cent chance of keeping global warming below 1.5°C. Yet, despite these conclusions and its newly found climate consciousness, Norway is unlikely to end its long-standing love affair with oil any time soon.
One part of the energy transition where Oslo and its suburbs are leading the world is in the move from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles. While the EU has set 2035 as the date by which no new internal combustion engine cars must be sold, Norway is aiming for 2025. “This goal is supported by virtually all political parties,” says Jaap Burger, senior adviser at the Regulatory Assistance Project, a non-profit organisation that advocates for renewable energy. Only the far-right Progress Party does not support the 2025 target, and it lost seats in the election.