Sweden aims to become the first fossil fuel-free country in the world

“Sweden will become one of the first fossil-free welfare states in the world,” Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven announced in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

“When European regulations do not go far enough Sweden will lead the way” he stated.

The Nordic countries already lead the world in renewable energy, with Sweden generating around two-thirds of its electricity through renewable sources.

Sweden’s government announced in September that it would allocate 4.5 billion kronor (£356 million) next year to green infrastructure – funding things like more solar panels and wind turbines, as well as cleaner public transport and a smarter energy grid and energy storage system.

Around 50 million kronor (£4 million) annually will be spent on research into electricity storage, and 1 billion (£80 million) will be poured into upgrading residential buildings to make them more energy-efficient, with the aim of becoming one of the world’s first nations to end its dependence on fossil fuels.

This move by the government of Sweden indicates commitment of the nation to protect its citizens from the effects of climate change in the future as Sweden suffered extreme heatwaves last summer, and one of the worst bushfires in the country’s history.

The government will increase support for solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids and clean transport. Investment in photovoltaics will rise nearly eightfold to 390 million kronor per year between 2017 and 2019.

Sweden received about two-thirds of its electricity generation capacity from clean and low-carbon sources – predominately hydroelectric and nuclear – last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The majority of the budget increase will be financed by heavier taxes on petrol and diesel fuel.

Sweden plans to significantly reduce its emissions by 2020 with focus on increasing its solar and wind energy potential, as well as making its transport industry more sustainable. It didn’t set a target date for the nation becoming fossil free, though Stockholm may reach that goal by 2050.

According to Bloomberg, this is how Sweden plans to completely abandon fossil fuels (although no deadline has been set):

  • 390 million kronor per year between 2017 and 2019 in photovoltaics, with a plan to spend 1.4 billion kronor in total
  • 50 million kronor annually on electricity storage research
  • 10 million kronor on smart grids
  • 1 billion kronor to renovate residential buildings and make them more energy efficient
  • Subsidies and investment in green transportation such as electric cars and buses
  • Increase funding of climate-related projects in developing countries, raising its budget to 500 million kronor

The government also announced that it would be spending money on smart grids, renewable energy storage technology, an electric bus fleet, subsidies for green cars, climate adaptation strategies and renovating residential buildings to make them more energy efficient.

It’s no coincidence that the move comes just a couple of months before the 2015 United Nationals Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Paris at the end of November.

“2015 is our opportunity, a chance to, in dialogue with all the countries of the world, change course towards a new development path where we can succeed in generating welfare for all, not at the planet’s cost but in cooperation with it,” a key adviser to the Prime Minister, Johan Rockström, said in a press briefing.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International