On November 17th, Norway’s Green Party, Miljøpartiet De Grønne (MDG), presented its alternative state budget for 2021. This alternative budget, according to MDG leader Une Bastholm, can solve the three crises that are detrimental to the population of Norway. These crises include the Covid-19 crisis, the climate crisis, and the natural crisis. Through a redistributive tax policy, Une Bastholm believes these crises can be curtailed. 

According to the MDG, the climate and nature crisis is the “greatest injustice of our time.” Over half of Norway’s population believe that politicians do too little to solve the climate crisis, and seven out of ten believe that everyone has a responsibility to cut their own emissions. The MDG completely agrees. 

“Now is the time for a government to take responsibility for resolving the climate crisis. A more environmentally friendly Norway will be a better country to live in.”

In the alternative state budget, the MDG outlines exactly how they will distribute the money if they govern the country. They propose four themes that illustrate their priorities. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/mdg/pages/1938/attachments/original/1605609260/Alternativt_statsbudsjett_2021.pdf?1605609260

In this budget, the MDG aims to demonstrate how it can be easy to live environmentally friendly, how they can cut enough emissions to prevent serious climate change, and how they can create secure future jobs. They envision a society in which “we take care of nature and children, while strengthening the community and redistributing more to those who have the least.”

1.We make it easy to make the right choice

Most people in Norway want to contribute to the environment in everyday life, but, as expressed by the MDG, it is often “cumbersome and expensive.” Therefore, the overarching goal of their budget is to render it easier and cheaper to make the right choices. 

Transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Norway and accounts for 30 percent of emissions. The MDG demands that the future transport system be “emission-free, efficient and smart, and take consideration for humans, nature and wildlife.” That is why, in this budget, the MDG makes it easy and cheap to travel in an environmentally friendly way, and to choose a bus, train, bicycle and electric car throughout the country. 

High meat consumption in Norway has impacted the climate, resource use, animal welfare, health and the “security of future generations.” Therefore, the MDG promotes a reduction in meat consumption by setting up a VAT on meat, so that it becomes somewhat more expensive. By reducing the price of vegetables and fruits by 15 percent as well, the MDP makes it easier to eat environmentally friendly. 

In addition, by cutting the price of repairs and reuse, the MGD makes it easier and cheaper to repair rather than to buy new.

“We make it cheaper to travel and eat environmentally friendly, cut the price of repairs and reuse, and sponsor the purchase of electric bicycles… Pollution is becoming more expensive with us.”

The MDG also plans to set aside one billion kroner for the purpose of enabling people to install solar cells on their roofs, providing charging stations for electric cars, allowing people to buy an electric bike, and rendering homes more energy efficient.

2. We cut enough emissions and provide green jobs for everyone

The MDG displays how emissions in Norway can be reduced by 60 percent over the next nine years by phasing out emissions from oil, industry, and transport. Projections from the government’s National Budget show that in the absence of such a green policy, the government will fail to achieve anything close to this. Currently, the government plans to cut just over 20 percent of emissions over the next ten years.

At the same time, the MDG proposes a plan for Norway based on oil, and creates green jobs in all sectors. In particular, the MDG focuses on new industries in offshore wind, environmentally friendly ships, and carbon storage.

3. We make society just

In the new budget, the MDG aims to reduce social inequalities, enhance welfare schemes for families, and strengthen public legal aid.

“We want to strengthen the social safety net for those who stand without a job, and make sure that poverty is not exacerbated when one has children. We give students the same right to unemployment benefits as others workers, even when they do not get a job as graduates.”

In their budget, the MDG claims that everyone in Norway should have equal access to upper secondary education with a developing professional offer. Studying should be a full-time job, but many students, according to the MDG, still have to work alongside their studies to be able to afford food, a roof over their head, and transportation. 

Every fifth student struggles with mental illness, and that is a significant concern for the MDG. According to their budget, this is in part due to high pressure and high expectations, as well as a poor social safety net. In particular, if a student loses their part-time job or does not get a job as a new graduate, they are not entitled to unemployment benefits like other employees. This differential treatment in working life has become especially unfair and unacceptable to the MDG during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore, the MDG strives to provide students with the right to income security on an equal footing with other employees. In addition, the MDG plans to build more affordable student housing, and strengthen psychologist services for students. 

Furthermore, the MDG believes that Norway has a fundamental responsibility to contribute in a world where many are fleeing war, persecution, and climate change. The Greens support a more “responsible and decent” refugee policy, anchored in the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The MDG will therefore receive 5,000 quota refugees in 2021, as the UNHCR has asked Norway to accept. The government’s proposal is to receive 3,000.

Finally, the MDG proposes a historic legal aid reform that expands the scheme of free legal aid to apply to 25% of the population, so that “the size of your wallet does not determine your legal security” in a difficult life situation.

4. We use community money smarter

The MDG claims that money must be re-prioritized from motorways to trains, public transport, landslide protection and charging stations for electric cars. Rather than “looking for more oil”, the MDG believes that money and knowledge should be invested in the green industry and vibrant, renewable natural resources.

MDG will increase taxes by “NOK 10.5 billion,” and fees by “NOK 22 billion” (Vesterålen Online). In this sense, Une Bastholm admits that MDG differs from the other Norwegian parties. 

The key difference between the MDG and the other parties is the environmental taxes. We use the tax for redistribution, and the fees for restructuring, says Bastholm (Vesterålen Online). In total, the party proposes NOK 19.6 billion in environmental taxes. Among other things, MDG will have a seat fee of a total of NOK 13 billion. The VAT on meat will be increased from 15 to 25 percent, which is equivalent to NOK 1.8 billion a year (Vesterålen Online). 

No party in Norway wants to increase the tax rate as much as the MDGs. However, party leader Une Bastholm claims that many people will come out better with their plan.

“A more environmentally friendly Norway will be a better Norway to live in. It will be a Norway with jobs which are safe in the future, where the air we breathe is clean and the sea we live off is free of plastic. Where we travel both efficiently, comfortably and emission-free. It is a Norway where we use our foremost knowledge to save and restore the nature we have destroyed.”

The MDG strives to multiply climate assistance, and ensure that Norway contributes to poverty reduction, increased access to clean energy, and sustainable nature management in ways that benefit the population at large. 

Margaret Saville

Margaret Saville studies psychology and political science at McGill University in Montreal, and would like to pursue political journalism. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Nelson, British Columbia. Her passions include environmentalism, literature and writing, and down-hill skiing. Margaret is committed to addressing social issues such as the climate change crisis, racial and gender inequality, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ rights, and advocating for mental health awareness.

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