As in fossil-fuels, not dinosaur bones. Sweden is already ahead of other nations in reducing fossil-fuel use by producing energy from their waste – so much so that they have to import garbage from the UK, Norway, Denmark and other neighboring countries. But Sweden wants to go even further by becoming entirely fossil-free by 2030, and they believe they can do it while continuing to grow their economy.
As part of this plan, Sweden has just launched their “Fossil-free Sweden” initiative to showcase programs created by Swedish companies and municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to challenge the international community to do the same. They plan to bring many of these ideas to the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris beginning November 30.
Decoupling and the COP21
According to a Swedish government press-release:
One of the major questions being discussed at the upcoming COP21, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is whether it is possible for nations to grow their economies whilst at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions, known as “decoupling”. Kristina Persson, Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Co-operation, also known as Sweden’s “Minister for the Future”, believes decoupling is not only possible, but a must for all countries to achieve.
The concept of “decoupling” has been around for years, and Sweden has the data to show it can work. Clearly one of the major benefits of reducing fossil-fuel use is the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1990 Sweden has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% while their GPD grew by 58% in the same time period.
Kristina Persson on Sea-Level Rise
This is a topic Miamians know (or should know) a little bit about. Kristina Persson, Sweden’s Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Co-operation, talks about sea-level rise as a crucial reason for decoupling our global economies from fossil-fuels.
According to research, we will reach a temperature increase of plus 3 degree during this century. And that is, of course, very dangerous. Many cities are situated closed to the ocean and they will be flooded, so you will get an increase of migration. People will not be able to support themselves, grow the food they need, and the economy will be hurt very badly. So we need to do much more than we are doing presently.
The recent Global Status Report from REN21 was encouraging on this point:
The report says clean energy’s remarkable growth has helped the world achieve a sustainable development milestone in growing the economy and energy use without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions. In finding that the world’s annual 1.5 per cent increase in energy consumption in recent years and three per cent GDP growth last year resulted in CO2 emissions unchanged from 2013 levels at 32.3 billion metric tons, the GSR echoes similar claims made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) earlier this week… REN21 says the possible decoupling of economic growth and emissions is largely due to China’s increased use of renewable resources and the wealthy OECD nations adopting more sustainable energy sources.
In the meantime, Sweden’s commitment to be fossil-free by 2030 is actually just stepping stones to the overarching goal of “a society with no net GHG emissions by the year 2050.” For a fascinating and detailed look at what Sweden is doing to couple their economy to the environment instead of to fossil-fuel, be sure to visit their website at Sweden.se.