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Around the World Backlash Increases Against Climate Change Policies

June 13, 2019

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 purportedly fight human-caused climate change.

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 purportedly fight human-caused climate change.

Skepticism over whether humans are causing dangerous climate change has always been higher in America than in most industrialized countries. As a result, governments in Europe, Canada, and other developed areas are much farther along the energy rationing path, cutting carbon dioxide emissions as required. However, residents in these countries have begun to revolt against the higher energy costs they suffer under due to high taxes on fossil fuels and mandates to use expensive renewable energy.

This is what originally prompted protesters in France to don yellow vests and take to the streets in 2018. They were protesting scheduled increases in fuel taxes, electricity prices, and stricter vehicle emissions controls, which French President Emmanuel Macron had 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 canceled the climate action plan.

Also in 2018, in part as a reaction 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.

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

But 2018 was just a prelude for the political climate revolt to come.

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.”

In Finland, climate change policies became the dominant issue in the April 14 election, as support for climate skepticism suddenly surged. While all the other parties proposed plans to raise energy prices and limit energy use, when all the votes had been counted, the Finns Party, which made the fight against expensive climate policies the central part of its platform, came out the big winner with the second-highest number of seats in Parliament. Just two months prior to the election, polls showed the Finns Party's support hovering below 10%. But after the the party made battling alarmist climate policies its main goal, its popularity soared, delivering it the second-most seats in Finland’s legislature — 39, just one seat behind the Social Democratic Party, with 40 seats. Even the New York Times noted the Finns Party’s electoral surge was based on its expressed climate skepticism.

In Alberta, where the economy declined after Prime Minister Trudeau’s climate policies were enacted, voters on April 16 threw out the reigning Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party, which supported federal climate policies. The United Conservative Party, headed by newly elected Premier Jason Kenney, took over after vowing to scrap the province’s carbon tax and every other policy in NDP’s climate action plan. As part of that effort, Kenney said he would reverse plans to accelerate the closure of the province’s coal power plants and its cap on emissions from the oil sands. In addition, Kenney says he will challenge the federal government’s climate impositions in court and streamline regulations hampering the province’s critical oil and gas industry and pipeline construction.

As daily headlines become ever more shrill, hyping climate fears based on projections made by unverified climate models, the international public is becoming increasingly wary of the Chicken Little claims of impending climate doom. Voters in developed countries are saying “enough is enough” to high energy prices that punish the most vulnerable but do nothing to control the weather.

[Originally Published at the Washington Examiner]

Article Tags
Environment
Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org