Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Guardian: “Sweden, an oil-free economy”

As I have written about before, star-columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently highlighted our global dependence on oil. And the fact that Sweden has an oil-commission aiming to break that dependency has impressed, for example, the state of California and its governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Moreover, the newspaper Friedman writes for, The New York Times, ran an article about Sweden's environmental policies a few days ago.

Personally I am proud that our government addresses the major issues of our common future. And since this blog has a tradition of spreading the word when international media writes the articles Swedish newspapers should write, here comes yet another example.

This time it is one of my favorite newspapers, The Guardian, that runs a story called “Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy.” The article is a pretty straightforward account of the government’s official policy, with some British comparisons, and notes:
”Sweden has a head start over most countries. In 2003, 26% of all the energy consumed came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of the energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970.”
The article also mentions that even George W. Bush is talking about breaking the dependency on oil, something that was also brought up in the recent radio-debate between Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson and the leader of the opposition Fredrik Reinfeldt (Conservative party).

When the Prime Minister confronted Reinfeldt with the political right’s lack of environmental policies, Reinfeldt mumbled that he is “pro the EU”, which is indeed a very lame answer. He also tried to bring up the issue of nuclear power, which is a dead alley for him since we have an agreement in Swedish politics to phase out nuclear power smoothly as other sustainable alternatives grow. Even one of the parties in Reinfeldt’s right-wing alliance is backing that agreement.

Conclusion? Thank you, international media, for highlighting Sweden’s future-oriented policies. And I added the Swedish party-political dimension, just because you should not miss that social democracy is the political alternative looking forward. Now I hope that at least some parts of the Swedish media, and not only the ones normally highlighting stuff like this, will follow The Guardian’s example.

(Thanks to Henrik in Brussels)


Blogger Pickles said...

I obviously think this oil-free future sounds wonderful and utopian. I fear that the Swedish pledge to do it without resorting to Nuclear might be a bit difficult to achieve in the UK context - whilst we have extensive coastline we're limited countrysides in which to accomodate wind farms and so on, we're lacking in big rivers for dams and the like - and are nearly as poorly supplied in terms of sunlight as you Swedes.

Combine that with a population several times larger and we're looking at a serious gap to fill in terms of energy. I like the idea of an oil free future - but I suspect nuclear is going to play a bigger role in the UK than in Sweden.

Having said that - I reckon we'll be subsidising the Swedish social model even more in future as we pay you over the odds for renewable technologies as yet again you guys beat us to it with far-sighted government action.

8/2/06 19:35  

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