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National Climate Policy – 2. Sweden

by Kennedy Graham

Under the traditional CBDR/RC principles, plus the latest phrases conceived in Warsaw and growing fast – ‘bounded flexibility’, spectrum of commitments’, ‘equity reference framework’, ‘fair contributions’, what of the national policies of Sweden and New Zealand?

While New Zealand devoted the ‘90s to promoting land-use and forestry as ways of making our national climate-life easier, and driving tractors up Parliament’s steps, Sweden like Denmark took its general obligations under the Framework Convention seriously.

So its gross emissions have fallen 11% (1990-2010).  New Zealand’s rose 20%.  With some irony, Sweden’s fell and New Zealand’s rose by comparable amounts to counterpart levels – in reverse: Sweden fell from 72 Mt to 64 Mt; New Zealand rose from 61 Mt to 72 Mt.    Why do they do so much better?

Like Denmark, it is primarily a question of attitude, societal and governmental.  Two things:

–  Whereas we signed and then talked for the first twenty years, they signed and then acted, with specific emission-reduction policies from the early ‘90s, way before an overall climate strategy kicked in.

–  Accompanying that, a broad cross-party consensus helps bed in a predictable climate policy.

They started with transport.

–  In 1991, Sweden introduced a CO2 tax on vehicle fuel, and it has been raised several times since; and there is an energy tax on diesel.  Biofuels are exempt.

–  From 2015 the mandatory emissions rate for new cars will be 130 gr. CO2/litre.  New Zealand has virtually no such standards.

–  All large filling stations must have at least one renewable fuel offered.

–  A ‘Green Car Rebate’ applied to the purchase of new eco-classified cars.  This has given way to a vehicle-tax exemption (with heavy trucks and older cars being taxed); but a new ‘Super Green Car Rebate’ applies to hybrids and electrics.

They continued with energy, both supply and use.

–  Back in ’03, they introduced a ‘green electricity certificate’ system: producers receive a certificate for every MWh of renewable electricity produced. They sell them to users who are obliged to purchase certificates equivalent to a particular proportion of their use.

–  There is a specific programme supporting wind power, both on-shore and off-shore; and there is support for PVCs

–  Owners of individual houses, multi-dwelling buildings and commercial premises are obliged to declare their energy use.

–  There is a multitude of programmes, some national and some European: an Energy-intensive Industry Efficiency Programme, an Eco-design Framework Directive, an Energy Survey check for SMEs.

–  The taxing of fossil fuels not covered by the EU-ETS is subject to a national tax, which is increasing in steps.

Their industry profile is largely covered by the EU-ETS, with 843 installations involved, representing 32% of Sweden’s total emissions.

Sweden’s 2020 Target

Looking forward, Sweden has adopted far-reaching targets, since it is serious about doing its ‘fair share’.  It has a national 2020/1990 target for its emissions outside the EU-ETS (i.e. 68% of its gross) of 40%.  New Zealand has 5%.  Two-thirds of the target will be domestic reductions; one-third can be foreign credits (mainly CERs through the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism).

Sweden’s 2050 Target

In ’09 the Swedish Parliament adopted the ‘Integrated Climate & Energy Strategy’.  The Strategy will have Sweden carbon-neutral by 2050.   In contrast, the same year, the NZ Government, without recourse to Parliament, gazetted a 2050 target of 50% off 1990.  It has never been debated.

Sweden is not perfect either.  It has policies on agriculture and forestry, land use and waste. These sectors account for much less than with us.  But they know where and how to act.  Their energy and transport measures can only be admired.

We have much to learn, in Aotearoa.

12/06/2013 – 04:55


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