Sweden announces plan to go carbon neutral by 2045

Sweden has set one of the most ambitious climate goals of any developed nation, calling for the phasing out of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

On Thursday of last week, deputy prime minister and minister for climate, Isabella Lovin, signed a referral of law that will bind Sweden to net zero emissions by 2045. It is expected the law will be passed in the parliament in the coming months through a cross-party agreement involving 7 of the 8 parties of parliament.

The law would come into effect on January 1st, 2018 and require all Swedish governments, present and future, to set more stringent emissions cuts every 4 years until the 2045 deadline. “I personally believe we could get there even earlier,” said minister Lovin in an interview with Reuters. The law would require that emissions be cut at least by 85 percent in 2045, with remaining emissions being offset either by forestation or foreign investments.

“We see that the advantages of a climate-smart society are so huge, both when it comes to health, job creation and also security,” said minister Lovin.

Speaking at a news briefing, prime minister Stefan Lofven said that “Sweden will be one of the world’s first fossil-free developed countries.” Addressing the international context in which Sweden’s plan is announced, the Prime Minister said that Trump’s stance on climate policy is worrisome, as greenhouse gas emissions affect everyone around the world. He added that all other nations should step up and fulfill the Paris Agreement.

With this planned legislation, Sweden joins the ranks of three other countries already on the quest for carbon neutrality. Costa Rica announced its intentions to become carbon neutral in 2006, and in 2008 it passed the National Climate Change Strategy, the principal policy tool setting out measures to phase out GHG emissions by 2021. Costa Rica’s efforts are primarily based on reduction of emissions from transport, agriculture and industry, reforestation and avoided deforestation, and the national carbon market. The Maldives committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2020 in 2009. Its plan is largely based on expanding renewable energy and electrifying the transport sector. Finally, Norway announced its commitment to attaining carbon neutrality by 2030 in 2016, moving its target forward by 20 years from 2050 following the Paris Agreement. Norway is looking to achieve this target by electrifying the transport sector, capturing and storing emissions from industry, promoting bioenergy, and buying foreign emissions credits. While Norway’s target, if at all achieved, would require significant contribution from foreign carbon credits, Sweden could become the first developed economy to attain carbon neutrality primarily through domestic emissions reductions.

As Climate Home reports, Sweden is expected to present the full legislative proposals next month, with details on specific measures to tackle the challenge coming in June.



(Image: Middelgrunden wind farm. Photo credit: Kim Hansen/Flickr.)