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Norway’s ‘Climate Election’ Puts Center-Left in Charge

Despite the soul-searching, the four main political parties all back continued oil exploration and production for the moment, as economic inequalities also dominated the campaign. Mr. Store argued that the revenues from oil could be used to finance a transition, but that stopping exploration and production would only hurt the country’s economy.

Five smaller parties, including some that could participate in a coalition led by Mr. Store, have pushed for an end to oil and gas exploration. The Greens, which made gains in the polls after the release of the U.N. report, even campaigned for an end to all such activities by 2035. But on Monday, they won less than 4 percent of the vote.

A former foreign minister, Mr. Store, 61, had long been a prime contender to lead the country, but he was defeated twice by Ms. Solberg, in 2013 and 2017. During her two terms, Ms. Solberg lowered taxes and increased public spending. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Norway has had one of the lowest death rates in Europe.

Ms. Solberg will also be remembered for having formed a coalition with the anti-immigrant Progress party that joined her government in 2017. It then left the coalition in January 2020 in protest against the repatriation of Norwegian families who had joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Since then, Ms. Solberg had been leading a minority government.

Critics and climate scientists say Ms. Solberg did too little to address climate change during her time as leader. But her successor will also face considerable challenges in trying to take climate change policies to the next level, like how to support workers in the oil and gas sector.

“Until now, Norway had been picking the low-hanging fruit in climate change mitigation policies,” said Fay Farstad, a senior researcher at the Center for International Climate Research. “Now that we may be getting into the harder part, there has been more attention to the fairness of such policies, and making sure that the costs are being shared.”

In a victory speech on Monday, Mr. Store vowed to lead a “fair environment policy” and to deliver on the fight against climate change, although he may have to compromise with other parties that may make up his coalition and have diverging interests on oil and taxes.

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