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STOCKHOLM: Sweden’s wildfires and drought have caused the environment to become the second most important issue after immigration for Swedes before the Sept 9 general election, a poll showed on Thursday.

The heatwave and drought triggered dozens of wildfires, from the south up to the Arctic Circle as the country registered the hottest month of July in two centuries, with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius.

The Nordic nation, where summer temperatures are usually closer to 23 Celsius, is not equipped to deal with this kind of natural catastrophe and asked for help from Italy, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Poland and France.

An opinion poll carried out by the Swedish consultancy Demoskop between Aug 2 and 7 showed that 16 per cent of respondents saw the environment as the most important issue, replacing health care on 13 per cent.

According to the Demoskop poll, immigration is still the most important issue for voters at 23 per cent in Swedne which has registered around 400,000 asylum requests since 2012, a record in Europe.

For Sweden’s deputy prime minister Isabella Lovin, climate change and immigration can go hand in hand. “If we don’t do something about the climate threats then we’re going to have hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing hurricanes, drought and crop failures,” she told daily Expressen.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018