Combating climate change and its consequences is one of the most important foreign and security policy issues. Sweden aims to be one of the world’s first fossil-free societies through its new ambitious climate goals of net zero emissions by 2045. To achieve this, all actors in society must work actively to reduce emissions; collaboration between government, business and civil society is key.
Swedish Climate initiatives
Sweden’s ambitious climate initiatives have resulted in the introduction of a climate policy framework, a changeover in the transport sector from fossil fuels to sustainable fuels and electrification, and major investments being made in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Together we can save the climate
Global warming poses considerable risks for societies around the world. Failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could have profound consequences.
Transitioning to sustainable and climate-resilient development will pave the way for new opportunities. Through climate investments, the Fossil-free Sweden initiative and international climate action, Sweden will reduce its emissions at the rate necessary to ensure globally sustainable development.
Friends of Ocean Action
Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Isabella Lövin, Together with Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean has launched the initiative ‘Friends of Ocean Action’, a group of 40 influential individuals from different sectors of society who play key roles in the global work for sustainable oceans. The group is supported by the World Economic Forum.
By bringing together actors from business, civil society, international organisations and the research community, the group will generate and mobilise innovative solutions, resources and motivation for global ocean efforts.
Climate financing is a key issue, and Sweden is a bridge-builder between rich and poor countries. Through a major contribution to the UN Green Climate Fund, and by co-chairing the Fund in 2018, Sweden – as the world’s largest per capita donor – is showing that we take responsibility.
The Government has substantially increased climate financing in developing countries via multilateral channels, and contributes for example to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Programme (SREP) and Sustainable Energy for All.
Three key initiatives
Ban on cosmetic products
Plastic in the oceans is one of our most serious global environmental problems. From July 2018, the Swedish Government will ban cosmetic products that are intended to be rinsed off or spat out and contain plastic particles that have been added to cleanse, exfoliate or polish. The ban applies to products such as toothpaste, body exfoliators, face scrubs, shower gels, shampoos and conditioners containing microplastics.
Much of the plastic found in the oceans is washed up on our beaches by ocean currents. In parts of Sweden, this is a serious problem that affects outdoor activities, tourism and more. The Government has decided on a grant to municipalities to clean up plastic from their beaches. The initiative was announced in the Budget Bill for 2018 and is worth SEK 17 million per year in 2018–2020.
From 1 March 2018 municipalities, individually or together, can apply to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for the grant, which may cover up to 90 per cent of the costs.
Plastic bag regulations
A third action concerns a new approach for reduced usage of plastic bags.
In 2016, the government passed an ordinance on plastic bags that entered into force during 2017, after new regulations from the EU. The aim of the new law is to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags and thereby reduce the littering caused plastic bags and to promote resource efficiency. One of the responsibilities entails that consumers must be informed about the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags.
About the same time as the new ordinance came into force in 2017, several of the biggest clothing retailers (such as H&M) launched campaign named “One Bag Habit”. The retailers that join the initiative commit donate all surpluses from bag sales to environmental or social purposes.
This is an example of how joint efforts by international organizations, national governments and corporations can change consumer behavior and thereby reduce plastic waste.