Sweden, ever green, is cutting its climate budget

A “gasoline-soaked budget” is a popular description of the new budget proposal presented by the Swedish government last week. The center-right government, headed by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of the conservative Moderate-Liberal Union party and supported by the far-right Sweden Democrats, is focusing sharply on climate for the second year in a row.

The government is responsible for social services, defence, internal security and justice. But in general, the budget is limited: Sweden’s “economic winter” requires, according to the government, cuts. This also applies to climate adaptation.

Climate deniers

Commentators blame the Moderate Union Party’s changing priorities on the influence of the Sweden Democrats. Some members of their party deny the climate crisis or its seriousness. “If you sell your soul to a populist and nationalist party that includes a lot of climate deniers, this is the result,” said Ricard Nordin, the Center Party’s climate and energy spokesman. Watchman.

The minority coalition announced that it would reduce funding for climate and environmental measures by 259 million kroner (about 22 million euros). Last September, the same government already cut nearly 4 billion kroner (350 million euros) on climate targets. Until last year, the budget for this portfolio had increased significantly year after year.

At the same time, the government is offering tax breaks on petrol and diesel and lowering climate requirements for the fuel. Tariff rebates are presented as “compensation for higher inflation and lower purchasing power.”

“Climate goals are not a priority”

The government itself admits it will not meet its 2030 transport targets – cutting emissions by 70% compared to 2010. EU climate commitments for the same period are also out of reach with the new budget proposal, the coalition said.

“Cutting taxes contributes to increased fuel consumption and electricity delays,” the government climate report on tax cuts said. According to our own estimates, as a result of policy, emissions will increase by about 10 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030.2Equivalent increase.

In the first interview after her appointment as Finance Minister, Elisabeth Svantsson already stated that climate targets are “not a priority”. It now appears that this statement was more than just rhetoric. Aside from the expensive and unrealistic plan, according to many experts, to build ten new nuclear reactors, the center-right government shows little ambition for a large-scale transformation. The changing target from “100% renewable electricity” to “100% fossil fuel-free electricity” is also important.

Movement of no confidence

According to Lars J. Nilsson, professor of environmental studies at Lund University and member of the European Climate Advisory Board, says Sweden’s reputation as an environmental leader is changing. “At this moment, the momentum and progress from Brussels and from the European Union is no longer coming from us.”

Unprecedented, according to the Center Party. The opposition party issues an ultimatum to the Cabinet: If they are unable to present a climate action plan before the Christmas holidays, a vote of no confidence in Climate and Energy Minister Romina Pourmokhtari will follow.

“What is happening is that the Swedish government is deliberately increasing emissions,” says Nordin of the Center Party. Watchman. “No Swedish government in modern times has decided to do something like this. There are few countries in the world that do something similar, and it is very dangerous.”

Martin Udall, economic policy spokesman for the Center Party, told the newspaper that Sweden is known around the world as a country with a growing economy and low emissions. Dagens Nyheter. “Now we have a shrinking economy and rising emissions.”

Criticism comes not only from the opposition and environmental organizations. The “paradigm shift”, as the government itself calls the path it has taken, is also causing anger within its ranks. Douglas Thor, head of the youth branch of the Moderate Union Party, states that “the government does not appear to have a plan to meet climate targets” and suggests an increase in carbon dioxide2-tax.

Moderate Union Party member and former Stockholm mayor Anna König Jerlmeyer also believes the budget is seriously insufficient. “We should be working to reduce emissions in Sweden, not increase them,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post. “It is completely inconsistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”

The weakening of Sweden’s climate ambitions is not an isolated incident. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a similar weakening of the UK’s net zero plans last Wednesday. Sunak said he “did not want to risk losing the approval of the British people” and postponed the deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, as well as the phase-out of gas boilers. A day later, the Dutch parliamentary majority canceled the intended increase in fuel tariffs.

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Megan Vasquez

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