Climate change in Sweden

The issue of climate change has received significant public and political attention in Sweden and the mitigation of its effects has been high on the agenda of the two latest Governments of Sweden, the previous Cabinet of Göran Persson (-2006) and the current Cabinet of Fredrik Reinfeldt (2006-).



According to the Germanwatch Climate Change Performance Index 2010 Sweden ranked as the second best country after Brazil in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and policy formulation.[1]

For the total carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 (without other greenhouse gases or land use) Sweden ranked 87th to 83rd top out of 216 countries: 50.56 tonnes (t) below Libya 55.0 t, Serbia 52.3 t and Finland 52.15 t. For the per capita carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 Sweden ranked 82nd to 83rd top out of 216 countries having the same emissions as Ukraine 5.58 tonnes per capita (t/capita). This was only slightly below the carbon dioxide emissions per capita in China 5.83 t/capita (with 80th top position).[2]

In 2000 Sweden ranked seventy sixth out of 185 countries for the per capita greenhouse gas emissions when taking any land use changes into account. Without considering land use changes the country ranked at fifty eighth.[3]


Sweden has applied policy instruments and measures for climate change mitigation since 1980s.[4] The instruments used include economic instruments (such as CO2 tax, subsidies, penalties), legislation, voluntary agreements and a dialogue between the state and business enterprise. The main instruments are described below:

  • Carbon dioxide tax instrument

In Sweden, there are so far three different taxes levied on energy products (mainly fossil fuels), namely energy tax, sulphur tax and CO2 tax. Energy taxation has been used as a policy instrument ever since the oil crisis of the 1970s to support renewable energy and nuclear power. Energy tax was reduced by half in 1991 during the tax reform, simultaneously with the introduction of a CO2 tax on fossil fuels, with exceptions on ethanol, methanol, other biofuels, peat and wastes.

  • Renewable energy certificate system

As one part of the Government’s long-term energy policy to reduce GHG emissions, the Swedish government introduced a voluntary international system for trading “green certificates”, i.e. the renewable energy certificate system (RECS). With effect from 1 May 2003, RECS intends to encourage and increase the proportion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources. This will be done by payment of a levy in proportion to certain fraction of their electricity during the year. For example, during the first year (2003), users will be required to buy 7.4 per cent of the electricity generated from renewable sources

  • Renewable energy subsidies and continuous investment on R&D

Since 1991, Sweden started many programmes to encourage the use of renewable energy and new technology development, e.g. Energy Policy programme (Long and short term programs that focus on ways to increase the supply of renewable electricity, to reduce electricity consumption, and to promote energy efficiency), Green Certificate Scheme (Generators using solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, wave or small hydro are awarded one certificate for each MWh produced, and all consumers are obliged to buy enough certificates to cover a set proportion of their use).

  • International collaboration and carbon trading systems

Sweden also shows its leadership in international cooperation and competence on the climate change issues. Sweden actively took part in some international climate policy programs, such as Prototype Carbon Funds (PCF) and Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ)

  • Public participations

Public participation is quite important in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate responses. Without the support of the public, it is impossible to implement a new policy instrument successfully. For example, one cannot anticipate that bio ethanol and bio diesel could be widely consumed without support and understanding from the general population. Therefore, information to raise the level of knowledge concerning the climate issue to the public is necessary.

Oil phase-out in Sweden

The government created a Commission on Oil Independence (Kommissionen för att bryta oljeberoendet i Sverige till år 2020) and in 2006 it proposed the following targets for 2020:

  • consumption of oil in road transport to be reduced by 40-50 per cent;
  • consumption of oil in industry to be cut by 25-40 per cent;
  • heating buildings with oil, a practice already cut by 70% since the 1973 oil crisis, should be phased out;
  • overall, energy should be used 20% more efficiently

Public perception

A 2002 survey showed that over 95% of respondents said that the use of tax money for addressing climate change was either "Very important" or "Fairly important". A little over half of the respondents were willing to change the use of hot water, electricity consumption and travel arrangement in order to reduce the impact of climate change. A little under half did not want to decrease internal building temperatures as a means of reducing climate change impact.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Burck, Jan; Christoph Bals, Verena Rossow (December 2009). Climate Change Performance Index 2010. Germanwatch. ISBN 978-3-939-846-57-4. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  2. ^ World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest Guardian 31 January 2011
  3. ^ "WRI Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (registration required to access data)". 
  4. ^ "Sweden in the forefront for a green society". 
  5. ^ Boman, Mattias; Leif Mattsson (2008). "A note on attitudes and knowledge concerning environmental issues in Sweden". Journal of Environmental Management (Elsevier) (86): 575–579. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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