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Yesterday, Breitbart claimed:

The Swedish public has voted that climate change spending has been the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2019, according to a poll by the Swedish Taxpayers' Association.

This would be rather significant because, according to the same article, spending has more than doubled just in the last 6 years.

Further interesting because famed climate change activist Greta Thunberg is herself Swedish.

Do Swedes believe climate change spending to be the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2019?

  • Here's the supposed site for that organization: skattebetalarna.se/lovin-anklagar-sloso-for-alternativa-fakta. Here's the op-ed article it sources: expressen.se/debatt/…. – TheWanderer Jan 12 at 19:52
  • I don't read Swedish. Are you suggesting that Swedes think that it is pointless spending money on combating climate change at all, or that it was not spent in an effective way? If the climate has not yet changed back... – Weather Vane Jan 12 at 19:56
  • @WeatherVane, the claim could be supported by either. FWIW, the article suggests the latter "largely due to the fact that...emissions in Sweden had actually slightly increased." – Paul Draper Jan 12 at 21:06
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Who made the claim?

To get to the source of this we have to introduce two organizations: Skattebetalarnas Förening and a related project Slöseriombundsmannen. Both links are in Swedish. I could not find authoritative information in English but Skattebetalarnas Förening has a page on Wikipedia, with the English name Swedish Taxpayers' Association where we can read that it is…

…an association and taxpayers union in Sweden which advocates low taxes and efficiency in the public sector. The association was first founded in 1921…

In 2010 they started up a new project, Slöseriombudsmannen, where Slöseri can be loosely translated to waste. Wikipedia has this to say in English:

The association has a member working as Waste Mediator (“slöseriombudsmannen”) who has the responsibility to review the public funds used by the politicians and officials.

What is the claim?

Every year Slöseriombudsmannen holds a contest where the members can vote for what they believe has been the most wasteful use of taxpayer's money. I think the result is published here but I could not find a detailed summary about all the choices and specific questions. Here is some of the relevant information in that link:

  • Over 18,000 people voted.
  • The "winner" got 30% of the votes.

It also contains the motivation and background. It's not so much that it's bad to spend money on the environment, it's more that the money is spent on the wrong things and that it can be shown that what has been spent so far has not helped, but maybe even made it worse. They list a few specific projects like tax deductions for electric vehicles.

Do Swedes believe climate change spending to be the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2019?

30% of 18,000 tax-critical Swedes believe that the specific spending were the biggest waste of taxpayer money. I will leave this up to a statistician to decide if this can be applied to the whole population.

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    I'm not a statistician, but I certainly don't see any reason to think this represents the entire population. The respondents are only from a group with a particular political viewpoint, and it does not seem that any attempt was made to sample randomly. – Nate Eldredge Jan 12 at 22:11
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    @NateEldredge I partially agree, but it is still not an insignificant number of people and the issue of global warming/climate change is not nearly as politically divided over here as it is in, say, the United States so just because these people are anti-taxation doesn't necessarily mean they can be disregarded as having a uniform (and different from the majority) view on climate change. It would be nice to find exactly how the poll was executed and who could vote. – pipe Jan 12 at 22:25
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    No, it doesn't apply to the whole population as it is a biased sample self-selected by economic and political issues (and likely to hold those values particularly strongly to be a member of such an organisation). It only tells you something about the population from which the sample was obtained, and that isn't the Swedish population, just a small subset of it (18,000 of 10,000,000 is about 0.2%). You would need an unbiased sample to draw conclusions about the general population. – Dikran Marsupial Jan 15 at 8:30

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