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ARTICLE17 March 2021

Swedish exports can lead the way in global climate efforts

Swedish exports have already generated climate benefits equivalent to 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, as a result of the replacement of less-clean production in other parts of the world.

Photo: colourbox.com

This is far greater than industry’s total emissions within Sweden’s borders - 17 million tonnes - and represents half of Sweden’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which totalled 52 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018.

The calculations were carried out by Material Economics on behalf of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and with the support of Vinnova, the Swedish State R&D agency. Swedish and foreign production were compared by identifying reference plants abroad and calculating the climate footprint from the corresponding production.

According to calculations, in the next twenty years it will be possible to more than double the direct climate benefit of Swedish exports. By 2040, these exports could reduce global emissions by up to 65 million tonnes.

Swedish companies are world leaders in energy systems, transport, steel production and mining. These are areas where technological breakthroughs and innovations have become a powerful lever when implemented globally. Many Swedish companies export over 90 percent of their production.

Two current examples of innovative Swedish industries come from the major investments in the production of fossil-free sponge iron and fossil-free steel, which mining company LKAB and steel manufacturer H2GS respectively are now planning. At the same time, new technology means that the need for electricity will increase by almost 70 TWh. Sweden’s total demand for electricity will therefore double in the coming few decades. This means that energy policy will be crucial for climate work.

If the role of exports for in addressing greenhouse gas emissions in the world were a clear part of the Swedish and European climate policy, Europe could take greater responsibility globally, while businesses and technological innovation could benefit. But then the perspective of climate policy must be broadened accordingly.

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise therefore offers a number of suggestions for how companies can continue to be the engine of sustainable climate work:

  • Exports should be a factor both for evaluating how Sweden and Europe achieve their climate goals and for the development of future climate policy.
  • A well-functioning electricity supply mechanism will be crucial for phasing out fossil fuels and managing climate change. It is also crucial for encouraging companies to invest. Investments in electricity transmission must be made a priority.
  • A good business environment is good for the climate. Opportunities to invest in production, R&D and innovation should be considered an important part of climate policy.
  • Investments in research and development must support the business community’s ability to innovate and export.
  • The goal of 100 percent renewable energy needs to be replaced by one of 100 percent fossil-free. The current goal is directed towards an electricity system that will be at least 40 percent more expensive instead of a goal that is geared towards 1

Swedish companies are ready to take greater responsibility for global climate policy - if there is the political will to help them make it a reality.

KlimatExportTrade
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Contact our EU Office

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BE-1000 Bruxelles
Subscribe to our Swedish newsletter
Publisher and editor-in-chief Anna Dalqvist