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Norway Names Controversial Climate Change Skeptic As New Oil Minister

Norway appointed on Wednesday a skeptic on wind power and climate change as its new oil minister who will oversee oil and gas drilling and wind turbine installations on and offshore Western Europe’s largest oil producer.

Sylvi Listhaug of the right-wing Progress Party was appointed Minister of Petroleum and Energy on Wednesday, replacing Kjell-Børge Freiberg who was “honourably discharged from his office,” the Norwegian government said.

Listhaug is taking over one of the most important ministries which oversees one of Norway’s top exports—oil and gas—as well as the government’s majority stake in energy giant Equinor. The new appointment comes as political parties in Norway debate about how far into the Arctic they should allow oil and gas drilling.

While Norway’s oil policies are not expected to dramatically change under the new minister who is of the same party as the previous head of the petroleum ministry, Listhaug comes into office with a baggage of some controversial statements in the past regarding wind turbines and climate change.

In an interview with Norway’s VG outlet back in 2011, Listhaug said that “it has not been proven that human CO2 emissions cause climate change. It is mostly an excuse for imposing more taxes.”

Then in August this year, the new oil minister told Norwegian broadcaster TV2 that Norway does not need wind power, and referred to wind turbines as “white monsters.”

In Norway, hydropower accounts for 95 percent of electricity production, while thermal power production and wind power represent 2.4 percent and 2.6 percent of electricity production, respectively, according to Statistics Norway.

Earlier this year, public opposition forced the Norwegian government to scrap plans for large-scale onshore wind power development.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate was quoted as saying that the plan received 5,000 responses from the public and most of these “were critical from private individuals who do not want wind power in their municipality.”  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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