20 November 2020

Friday Freakout:

Nordic Exceptionalism

By Jess Arvela
Head of Sales & Marketing | Co-Founder

We have spoken about Climate Change. It’s one thing to convince the world it is an issue; it’s another to look at solutions. I feel we get stuck on the first part since there are so many deniers, or at least, people that place the issue at the back of the priority list. 

You know how you watch the current media around America, the recent election, interviews with Trumpets, and wonder why they are the way they are? I love Jordan Klepper’s interviews with Trump supporters to really understand how they rationalise Trump’s behaviour, or what they perceive to be his policies. The rest of the world looks at Australia like that, when it comes to our potential with renewables, and our commitment to coal. Energy policy is critical to include when looking at climate policy since energy accounts for 73.2% of all GHG.

We know that ScoMo is keen on gas, and while it’s not coal, it’s not sustainable, it’s not renewable, and it’s adding to the GHG emissions, which really brings us back to square one. 

It’s not impossible; it’s not at a cost to GDP, it’s not going to prevent jobs, stunt growth, or damage the economy. It’s not what Australian’s have been led to believe.

The Germanwatch Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) has listed Sweden as the top performer for two consecutive years. Their position (score 75.77) is considered ‘high performing’ and is followed by Denmark (71.14), and Morocco (70.63).

Sweden was the first in the world to create an agency purely to protect the environment. The Swedish Environment Protection Agency, ‘Naturvårdsverket’ was established in 1967. 

Sweden was one of the first countries to announce a mitigation climate strategy in 1988, which was updated and expanded upon following the UNFCCC in 1992. The reform within the framework is Sweden’s response to the Paris Agreement, and includes a commitment to zero net GHG emissions by 2045 at the latest.

Sweden introduced a Climate Policy Council, a Climate Policy Framework, with a Climate Act in 2017. A feature of Sweden’s effective climate policy is their carbon tax. The carbon tax was introduced in 1991 and is now the highest in the world at SEK 1180 (US $123) per tonne fossil (carbon dioxide) CO2 emitted. 

Sweden has described the pricing as a ‘polluter pays’ principle and a ‘political signal’, incentivising lower emissions, while encouraging the development of renewable technology. Sweden has been eager to promote the ease in which the tax has been administered and have often paired this assertion with evidence of the sustained economic growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Sweden has experienced.

An illustration of the rise in Real GDP alongside the reduction in domestic GHG emissions in Sweden between 1990 and 2017

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created in 2010 to provide financial support to developing countries seeking to reduce their GHG emissions. Sweden is a leading financial contributor to the GCF, in 2018 Sweden was the largest donor per capita providing US$725 million (SEK 6.2 billion) in assistance. 

Sweden has set a target to generate 100 per cent of their energy from renewable sources by 2040.

Sweden’s extensive waste management system has resulted in 99.3 per cent of household waste to be recycled or used to generate energy, which is then used in ‘heating, electricity, biogas, biofertilizer and materials’.

There are 140 companies that sell and provide energy in Sweden, as Swedes are able to choose their energy provider, it encourages market competition for price and efficiency. There are declarations on buildings indicating energy use and comparing it to other buildings, body heat is captured from passengers through the central metro station and is used to heat buildings nearby in the capital Stockholm.

Swedish project ‘Climate Right’ was recognised by the United Nation’s ‘Momentum for Change’ award during the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech in 2016. Climate Right is an app that allows users to track the impact they have on the climate as they make decisions on food, transport, and energy. By estimating their footprint, and providing alternatives, the project found participants cut their emissions on average by 31% over six months.

“Just a tenth of a percent of emissions worldwide come from Sweden but the climate problem is global. What matters is what emissions are done worldwide, not where they are done

It’s important to note, this is still not enough to limit warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. Only Morocco and the Gambia are on track for that. 

Governments need to prioritise the climate emergency. Countries GDP do not suffer from the investment into renewables.
Transformational change needs to occur.

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