Will Sweden succeed in becoming the first fossil-free country?

FPC News 3 min read, June 23, 2020

Needless to say that Sweden is by far the most ambitious pupil in the climate class. Sweden aims to be the world’s first fossil-free nation. With their climate policy framework, climate act and climate policy council, Swedes are well on their way to meet these high expectations. However: the various speeds of the different regions on implementation may become an Achilles’ heel. FutureproofedCities is opening an office in Sweden - and we may have some solutions for the Klimat strategists.

Swedes are well on their way to meet high climate expectations

Why Sweden runs ahead: the climate trident

Already in 2017 the Swedish Government introduced a climate policy framework for Sweden containing a Climate Act, new climate goals and an independent climate policy council. Until now, it’s been unparalleled elsewhere. The purpose of the framework is to create a coherent climate policy, providing the long-term conditions for business and society to implement the transition. The reform is a key component of Sweden's efforts to comply with the Paris Agreement.

Let’s take a brief look at the three components of the framework. So, first to all: Sweden has formulated its climate goalsin a very clear way. By 2045, Sweden will have net zero emissions

Emissions from sectors should, by 2030, be at least 63 per cent lower than emissions in 1990, and at least 75 per cent lower by 2040. Emissions from domestic transport, excluding domestic aviation, will be reduced by at least 70 per cent by 2030 compared with 2010.

To ensure these goals don’t just end up being vague ambitions, Sweden has added a legally binding Climate Act, being into force since 2018. The Climate Act establishes that the government's climate policy must be based on the climate goals and specifies how. The Swedish government is required to present a climate report every year in its budget bill. Every fourth year, the government is required to draw up a climate policy action plan for how the climate goals are to be achieved.

The third pillar of the framework makes sure the selected climate actions are not just depending on the government’s estimate. A climate policy council provides an independent assessment of how the overall policy presented by the government is compatible with the climate goals. The council evaluates whether the direction of various relevant policy areas will increase or reduce the likelihood of achieving the climate goals.

Are all regions keeping up with the pace?

Achilles’ heel

Sweden may well have a head start, there’s still a bumpy road ahead if the country wants to meet its ambition to be the world’s first fossil-free nation. To achieve this, all policy areas and regions must pull in the same direction and the issue of climate change must be integrated into all relevant policy areas. For this reason, the government has decided to form a ministerial working group on climate policy. Sweden is currently struggling with the implementation of climate goals, in some regions more than others.

Both on mitigation and adaptation, the 21 different regions are reinventing the wheel, lacking a clear overview for the central government. How could Sweden overcome these challenges? The answer is: by sharing experiences across regions - and learn from successful actions taken abroad. And there’s a second answer: the ministerial working group on climate policy should have a clear overview of the different initiatives taken on Swedish soil to adjust if needed.

Digital collaboration to the rescue

And this is where the FutureproofedCities tool may help Sweden to keep track. With our online tool, cities and regions can jointly develop, monitor (live) and focus all sustainable measures within the framework of the national climate goals. Moreover, it helps the central government to push forward databased measures and prevents different regions from reinventing the wheel. The icing on the cake: it offers an opportunity to involve citizens and businesses to work together towards the climate goals.

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