Around The World Climate Politics Are Turning Increasingly Sceptical

  • Date: 05/05/19
  • H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute

From Alberta to Australia, from Finland to France and beyond, voters are increasingly showing their displeasure with expensive energy policies imposed by politicians in an inane effort to fight purported climate catastrophe.

Skepticism about whether humans are causing dangerous climate change has always been higher in the United States than in most industrialized countries. As a result, governments in Europe, Canada, and in other developed countries are much farther along the energy-rationing path that cutting carbon dioxide emissions requires than the United States is. Residents in these countries have begun to revolt against the higher energy costs they suffer under as a result of ever-increasing taxes on fossil fuels and government mandates to use expensive renewable energy.

For instance, in France in late 2018, protesters donning yellow vests took to the streets—and have stayed there ever since—in large part to protest scheduled increases in fuel taxes, electricity prices, and stricter vehicle emissions controls, which French President Emmanuel Macron claimed were necessary to meet the country’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement. After the first four weeks of protest, Macron’s government cancelled his climate action plan.

Also in 2018, in part as a backlash against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate policies, global warming skeptic Doug Ford was elected as premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Ford announced he would end energy taxes imposed by Ontario’s previous premier and would join Saskatchewan’s premier in a legal fight against Trudeau’s federal carbon dioxide tax.

In August 2018, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to resign over carbon dioxide restrictions he’d planned to impose to meet the country’s Paris climate commitments. His successor, Scott Morrison, announced reducing energy prices and improving reliability, not fighting climate change, would be the government’s primary energy goals going forward. Subsequently, Australia’s deputy prime minister and its environment minister announced the country would continue using coal for electricity and expand coal mining and exports.

The changes in 2018 were just a prelude for the political climate revolt of 2019.

In mid-March, the Forum for Democracy (FvD), a fledgling political party just three years old, tied for the largest number of seats, 12, in the divided Dutch Senate in the 2019 elections. FvD takes a decidedly skeptical stance on climate change. On the campaign trail, Thierry Baudet, FvD’s leader, said the government should stop funding programs to meet the country’s commitments to international climate change agreements, saying such efforts are driven by “climate-change hysteria.”

On April 14 in Finland, where climate change policies became the dominant issue in the election, support for climate skepticism surged. Whereas all the other parties proposed plans to raise energy prices and limit people’s energy use, the Finns Party, which made the fight against expensive climate policies the central part of its platform, gained the second-highest number of seats in the Parliament, just one seat behind the Social Democratic Party’s 40. The second-place finish was a big win for the Finns Party and its skeptical stance: just two months before the election, polls showed its support was below 10 percent. After the Finns Party made battling alarmist climate policies its main goal, its popularity soared. The New York Times credited the Finns Party’s electoral surge, in large part, to its expressed climate skepticism.

In Alberta, Canada, where the economy declined after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate policies took hold, voters on April 16 replaced Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party (NDP), which supports the federal climate policies, with the United Conservative Party, headed by newly elected Premier Jason Kenney, who vowed to scrap the province’s carbon tax and every other policy in NDP’s climate action plan.

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