Swedish special solutions poor basis for decision


The Sweden Democrats’ Jimmie Åkesson claims that the climate “tends to be very hot and alarming every election year”. That description fits the 2022 election year anyway.Published: August 25, 2022, 7:30 p.mLarge parts of the world are currently suffering from extreme temperatures and widespread drought. In China, the country’s worst heat wave to date is ongoing, with severe problems for the electricity supply as a result of the dams failing. Similar reports come from the USA, India but also Europe, where the corn harvests are threatened, the French nuclear power plants have been shut down and transport in the Rhine is limited by the low water levels.But the world is not just extra hot and dry this particular Swedish election campaign. The past seven years have been the warmest on record according to consensus measurements. The effects increasingly characterize our everyday life. The question is what we should do about it. The Green Party’s Märta Stenevi launched a new proposal on Thursday. If MP gains influence over the next state budget, all Swedish companies that are not fossil-free by 2030 will be forced to pay fines, according to the mouthpiece. The proposal is absurd. To indirectly portray hard-working and enlightened Swedish entrepreneurs as climate criminals, who need to be threatened with fines in order for them to change, is to go beyond all limits.Thankfully MP’s stick radical climate policy among the Riksdag parties today. Among these, a reconsideration of climate policy is underway: from yesterday’s mantra that Sweden should be best in class – a leading country – to a more realistic picture. “The climate crisis can never be solved by blaming people who need to take the car to the store”, the Social Democrats write in their election manifesto, which is symptomatic. The development is a direct consequence of the war in Ukraine, the sanctions against Russia and the energy crisis that followed fuel prices. More and more politicians seem to have realized that Sweden only accounts for 0.2 percent of the world’s global emissions. This makes it more difficult to justify why Swedish motorists should refuel more expensively than their neighbors or that companies should lose competitiveness in order for us to reach the Swedish climate goals.The view on the reduction obligation is a telling example. From only SD initially being critical of its design, the Riksdag has now decided to pause next year’s planned increases. Several parties, such as the Moderate Party and the Left Party, are also going to the polls to sharply lower the level of biofuel involved. The signals have of course been understood by the business community. On Wednesday, Södra’s CEO Lotta Lyrå stated that the political uncertainty caused the forest company to hesitate about the planned investment in large-scale production of bio-oil. Similar concerns come from the fuel company Preem, which has planned multi-billion dollar investments to produce renewable diesel. The company’s situation is regrettable, but hardly surprising. Hanging major investment decisions on political developments about the price of petrol and diesel is a difficult path to walk, given how mined the fuel issue is. In the long run, it is like betting that the politicians will stick to what they promised – in this case it meant that the reduction obligation would create long-term rules of the game for the players in the industry. But sometimes reality catches up.The risk of that kind of political capriciousness decreases if Sweden could move away from the attitude that we need special solutions in climate policy. We should do as, among others, John Hassler, professor of national economics, suggested and put ourselves on the same emission reduction level as the rest of the EU, which is far from a shame. By relying on the EU’s taxonomy, both Södra and Preem had also been informed that biofuels are not classified as a long-term sustainable investment, and will be phased out. In this way, both the finances of Swedish households and the competitiveness of business are protected.No matter how the ongoing once the review ends, it is important not to lose momentum in the work to reduce emissions. It is the biggest challenge of our time. But both Swedish consumers and companies have proven to be fully capable of making wise green choices, without government influence. Therefore, it is important that the politicians focus on the right things – that they point out the direction and embrace global market solutions rather than controlling the details and threatening punishment. Sweden can continue to be a leading country if our far-sighted entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to grow and export their climate-smart technology. More from the editorial board? Listen to Di’s Ledarpodd here.

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