Sweden: We will break dependence on oil by 2020

The Swedish Minister for Sustainable Development, Mona Sahlin, has announced plans to break the country's dependence on oil by 2020.

Writing in Swedish publication Dagens Nyheter recently, Minister Sahlin said that Sweden had the chance to be an international model in being the first government to break the dependency on fossil fuels. She claimed that, through a series of carrots and sticks, the country would boost its renewables sector and reach a state of energy self-sufficiency enhancing both an environmental and economic advantage.

"The whole world is now dreading the problems brought about by dependence on oil," she wrote, highlighting the way that the damage wrought by hurricanes such as Katrina had focused the world's attention on oil dependency.

"The Government is therefore setting a new policy target: the creation of the conditions necessary to break Sweden's dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices. The price of oil has tripled since 1996! Old oil price records are now being beaten at a rapid rate."

She proposed a number of measures to achieve these goals including:
  • Tax relief for conversion from oil, particularly for single family homes, but also public sector buildings to encourage conversion to renewable energy.
  • Higher targets for renewable energy so that the entire energy supply comes from renewable sources.
  • Tax breaks for renewable fuels for the transport sector;
  • Greater research and new knowledge for a renewable society;
  • Continued investment in district heating - which has increased radically in Sweden in recent years - and financial incentives to use biofuels in this.

    "Sweden has the chance to be an international model and a successful actor in export markets for alternative solutions," Ms Sahlin wrote. "But this requires conscious investments - not a reactionary policy that obstructs the transition to alternative energy sources and investments in the environment of the future."

    "The aim is to break dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. By then no home will need oil for heating. By then no motorist will be obliged to use petrol as the sole option available. By then, there will always be better alternatives to oil."

    David Hopkins

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