Sweden

   

Environmental Policies

#1
Key Findings
With a longstanding focus on ecological issues, Sweden takes the SGI 2020’s top position (rank 1) in the area of environmental policy. Its score in this area has improved by 0.5 points relative to 2014.

The country remains a significant energy consumer, but greenhouse-gas emissions are declining, and the use of renewable energy resources is improving. It is not a leader in the areas of recycling or water usage.

The country’s use of nuclear energy remains a controversial question, but several reactors are slated to close in any case due to low profitability.

Sweden has historically given strong support to global environmental regimes, even going beyond the requirements of international accords such as the Kyoto Protocol and Paris accord, and is a very active player with regard to the EU’s environmental agenda.

Environment

#1

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
9
As is the case with global social injustice, Sweden tries to be a forerunner in environmental policy as well. Sweden performs extremely well in areas such as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the use of renewable energy sources but is not a leader in recycling or water usage. Thus, while there is strong political commitment among all the major political parties, the execution of that commitment in some aspects is still lagging. Meanwhile, Sweden continues to push environmental issues in international forums such as the EU and is a strong supporter of the Paris Agreement.

Environmental policy made its way onto the political agenda in the 1970s and has remained a salient set of issues. With its legacy as a high-energy consuming industrial economy, Sweden certainly has a long way to go, but the data suggest its environmental policy is working. It should be noted that environmental policy is an integrated component of the larger project of restructuring the economy and making it more sustainable; much of this work takes place at the urban level.

After the 2014 elections, the Social Democrats formed a coalition government with the Greens; a government which remains in office despite a slight setback in the 2018 election. While both are strongly committed to “green” issues, it seems as if the Greens’ ascendance to power has further increased the attention on environmental issues. Nonetheless, the two coalition partners disagree on some issues. For instance, they do not seem to agree on the future of nuclear power. As fate would have it, two nuclear power plants are scheduled to be closed over the next few years by their owners due to low profitability resulting from falling electricity prices.

The commitment to sustainable development and addressing climate change is strong among all political parties. After the 2018 election, the government is reliant on the parliamentary support of the Liberals and Center Party. There is nothing to suggest that this new parliamentary situation has altered the coalition’s commitment to green issues and sustainable development.

Global Environmental Protection

#1

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
10
Sweden continues to present a very strong international record in terms of supporting international environmental protection regimes, including the Paris climate change conference in 2015. Indeed, the country has a record of going beyond the requirements of international accords, from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement, as a means of setting an example to other countries. Climate change and global warming can only be addressed through multilateral efforts and Sweden has played an important role toward such arrangements. Sweden is also a very active player on the EU’s environmental policy agenda.

Citations:
Zannakis, M. (2010), Climate Policy as a Window of Opportunity: Sweden and Global Climate Change (Gothenburg: Department of Political Science, university of Gothenburg).
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