The Nobel Prize Committee announced today that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had won this year’s Peace Prize. The NY Times reported on the reasons for his win:
Mr. Abiy, 43, broke through two decades of frozen conflict between his vast country, Africa’s second most populous, and Eritrea, its small and isolated neighbor. When he became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018, he threw himself at a breakneck pace into reforms at home, and peace negotiations with the rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea…
In its official announcement, the Nobel Committee detailed a litany of accomplishments for Mr. Abiy in his first 100 days as prime minister: lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalizing outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption, and increasing the influence of women in political and community life.
Sounds pretty impressive but those explanations didn’t sit well with fans of another Peace Prize nominee: Greta Thunberg. Thunberg had been expected to win by odds makers in London and was the person picked by most people making actual bets:
She is the bookies’ favourite to scoop the prize, with London-based betting company Coral putting her at 1/2 odds.
Another British bookmaker, William Hill, which put Thunberg at odds of 8/13, said Wednesday that 96% of Nobel Peace Prize bets had been placed on Thunberg.
After her surprising loss, Newsweek published a story headlined, “Greta Thunberg Snubbed for Nobel Peach Prize by Committee Run by Norway, One of the World’s Biggest Oil and Natural Gas Exporters.” What’s striking about the story is that, despite the loaded headline, it doesn’t actually attempt to make the case that Thunberg was snubbed. All it really does is point out Norway’s oil and gas exports and combine that with criticisms from Greenpeace:
While it strives to be a “low carbon society” by 2050—committing to the goal in legislation—and pushes for environmental policy, it remains one of the world’s largest exporters of oil and natural gas. According to the CIA, Norway is the world’s third-largest natural gas exporter, behind Russia and Qatar.
Somini Sengupta, writing in the New York Times in 2017 calls this conflict between “climate leader” and “oil giant” a “Norwegian Paradox.”
“Norway has for the last 50 years or so developed its dependency on oil, which has also given us a wealth other countries can barely dream of,” a spokesperson from Greenpeace Norway told Newsweek. “We are in a climate crisis, and the world can’t afford Norway to keep its double standards the way it does now.”
From this, I guess we’re supposed to infer the worst about the Committee’s hidden motives. After all, what else could possibly explain Thunberg’s unexpected loss? But the Washington Post reports that not everyone was surprised she didn’t win:
Henrik Urdal, head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, omitted Thunberg from the Nobel Peace Prize shortlist he publishes.
He explained his decision to The Washington Post, saying there “isn’t scientific consensus that there is a linear relationship between climate change — or resource scarcity, more broadly — and armed conflict.”
Janne Haaland Matlary, a politics professor at the University of Oslo, agreed that Thunberg was a “wild card” nominee. The link between climate change and conflict is still “quite tenuous at this point,” she said. “Everyone sees flooding can cause conflict, migration and so on, but this is in no way well established as a security policy issue yet.”
One big problem with the Norway-is-corrupt theory being promoted by Newsweek: Al Gore and the IPCC were awarded the prize in 2007. In announcing the prize, the Nobel Committee said that Gore had “strengthened the struggle against climate change.” But the Post reports that since then the Nobel Committee is trying to stick to awarding the prize to people trying to sort out actual conflicts, e.g. the one in Ethiopia.
This is going to be a big disappointment to all of the people arguing that climate change is the new World War II. The Nobel Committee just said it doesn’t buy that argument.