Norway: a dissonant cognitive leader?
National attitudes to climate change: public support, political conflicts Norway started to develop a national climate policy already in the late 1980s (Boasson 2013: 21). In 1989, 40 per cent of polled voters stated that they were ‘very concerned’ about climate change (Tjernshaugen, Aardal and Gullberg 2011: 334-335; Austgulen and Stø 2013: 144). Concern dropped markedly during the 1990s and early 2000s, but increased again towards the end of the decade. Since 2009, some 20 to 30 per cent of those surveyed have consistently ranked climate change among the top challenges facing Norway, rising to 34 per cent in 2015 (TNS Gallup 2015). Climate issues have been high on the agenda of most political parties in Norway for quite some time. Labour and the Conservatives are opponents on other major issues, but are remarkably similar as regards climate change. Both parties support a global cost-efficiency approach, relying on the development of a binding global regime based on flexible national commitments, global emissions trading and other measures to ensure that least-costly mitigation options are realized first (Boasson 2015; Gullberg 2009: 5; Lahn 2013). By contrast, a grouping of smaller parties – Christian Democrats, Liberal Party, Centre Party (former Agrarian Party) and Socialist Left Party – has opposed global cost-efficiency and promoted more national measures, such as direct regulation of large emitters and state aid for renewables. The same applies to the Green Party, which won a seat in the Storting (Norwegian parliament) for the first time in the 2013 elections. Since 2001, government formation in Norway has relied on the ability of either Labour or the Conservatives to create stable agreements with the smaller parties in the Storting (Boasson 2005). This need for alliances with parties that promote domestic-level measures for mitigating climate change has resulted in more national action on the issue. Labour, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party formed a majority coalition government from 2005 to 2013.