Norway has handed political control of its most important export to a former justice minister who's raised doubt about climate science and whose actions last year almost toppled the government.
The appointment of Sylvi Listhaug as petroleum and energy minister, overseeing the oil industry in western Europe's biggest crude and gas-producing nation, means business as usual for the Conservative-led government's mostly pro-oil policies. It also highlights the country's contradictions as one of the world's biggest fossil-fuel exporters and a would-be leader in the fight against climate change.
In an interview in 2011, Listhaug said that "it's not proven that human CO2 emissions lead to climate change."
A few minutes after formally taking her new position on Wednesday, she said she now believes global warming is "also" caused by humans.
Listhaug vowed to develop the oil and gas industry further and said climate activists, including striking schoolchildren, are giving it too little credit for its contributions to fighting climate change, such as developing greener technology and replacing more-polluting coal in Europe.
"Symbolic policies won't save the world," she said.
Listhaug, 41, who until now was minister for the elderly and public health, replaced Kjell-Borge Freiberg, who took the position in mid-2018.
Listhaug is set to oversee the entire energy industry in Norway, including the state's 67% stake in Equinor ASA and the country's hydro and wind power sectors. She has voiced distaste for onshore wind turbines, which are meeting increased local opposition.
"We shouldn't have wind turbines in the entire country," she said. "We need to preserve the beautiful landscapes that we have."
Some of the issues Listhaug will handle include a decision on whether to build a new power interconnector to the U.K. and how far north in the Arctic oil companies should be allowed to drill.
Listhaug was forced to resign as justice minister in March 2018 as a no-confidence vote in parliament threatened to overthrow the government. She had sparked a tense standoff when she said in a Facebook post that the opposition Labor Party — the victim of a terrorist attack in 2011 — cared more about the rights of terrorists than about national security.
Listhaug again joined the government in May and has a power base within the anti-immigration wing of the party.
Listhaug has called political correctness on immigration a "tyranny of good" and has posted a picture on Facebook of an immigrant being expelled from Norway, encouraging followers to "like and share!"
Listhaug's divisive character was one of the reasons the Christian Democrats, a small party that's supported the government in parliament, delayed joining Prime Minister Erna Solberg's coalition until this year. Under its former leader Knut Arild Hareide, the centrist party tipped the scales ahead of the no-confidence vote in 2018, forcing Listhaug's resignation. Hareide then lost a power struggle over the party's future strategy, ending with the Christian Democrats joining the government and paving the way for Listhaug's return.
The coalition also includes the Liberal Party, making energy and climate policies some of the most divisive issues within the government.