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Report from the Swedish commission to reduce oil usage by 2020

Ian Fiddies | 03.07.2006 11:27 | Ecology

The Swedish commission working on the elimination of oil use presented its final report on Wednesday the 28th of June through the prime minister Göran Persson and environmental author and governmental adviser Stefan Edman.

The report contains much that is positive but nothing revolutionary. Three areas of oil usage were covered, industry, home heating and transport. In general the commission recommends more effective use of energy and more intensive use of forestry and arable land to produce energy rich biomass. On the first two points, industry and home heating the commissions findings do appear to be well thought out and practically doable. One small point that could be picked up on is the idea of tax breaks for homeowners who live in energy effective houses. All well and good but what the commission didn’t mention was how these tax cuts would be balanced out in the national budget.

On the third point, transport I must admit to being disappointed although not surprised by the commissions conclusions. To quote Göran Persson the Swedish prime minister who presented the report “The private car is here to stay”. On the bright side the commission did recommend increased investment in public transport, both local and high speed inter city. They also suggested removing the “perks tax” on eventual employers subsidy of their workers public transport costs.

As to the private car the commission’s suggestion was improved effectively and a change of fuel. The Swedish cars, by 2020 should be 20% more efficient and be driven by renewable energy 40-50% more. Ethanol and rapeseed diesel were among the suggested alternatives but fossil diesel was even recommended, as diesel cars are on average 25% more fuel-efficient the petrol driven kind. During the presentation it was suggested by one of the audience that encouraging the use of diesel would be counter productive to reducing the already illegally high urban NO2 pollution levels. Persson counted this by saying the more stringent European regulations would prevent increased NO2 pollution. I don’t quite follow the logic of this answer, but who am I to question our noble prime ministers wisdom. In my naivety I thought pollution could only be reduce by reducing emissions. One other question from the public was “Will the Swedish forestry resources be sufficient to cover the proposed increased usage?” The reply was a confidence boosting “We hope so”, confidence boosting at least in its honesty.

The report is positive and it suggests a great many steps in the right direction to reduce Sweden’s contribution to global warming. I would even go as far as to say it sets a powerful example globally on how we have to take serious measures to reduce carbon emissions. What the commissions doesn’t admit to is the necessary reduction of the use of private cars. Sweden produces more cars per capita than any other country. It is therefore not surprising that it’s premier should mention the brand name Volvo under the presentation of the report but completely omit any mention of the word bicycle. The make up of the commission could also be said to lack impartiality on the car question by including the chairman of Volvo as a member, while excluding all environmental NGOs.

(Full report but in Swedish; )

Ian Fiddies

Ian Fiddies
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  1. NOx Pollution and Diesel Engines — ch