Sweden Tops All Nations As Climate-Friendly

<p>One country stands out in Europe in surpassing the greenhouse gas emission reductions required by the Kyoto Protocol - Sweden. While it used several environmental technologies to achieve those reductions, experts give credit to its carbon tax.</p>
May 10, 2008, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"If there's a paradise for environmentalists, this Nordic nation of 9.2 million people must be it. In 2007 Sweden topped the list of countries that did the most to save the planet - for the second year running - according to German environmental group, Germanwatch. Between 1990 and 2006 Sweden cut its carbon emissions by 9%, largely exceeding the target set by the Kyoto Protocol, while enjoying economic growth of 44% in fixed prices.

The main reason for this success, say experts, is the introduction of a carbon tax in 1991. Swedes today pay an extra 2.34 kronor (20p) per litre when they fill the tank (although many key industries receive tax relief or are exempted). "Our carbon emissions would have been 20% higher without the carbon tax," says the Swedish environment minister, Andreas Carlgren."

"Today, environmental measures are common throughout the country. Take Linköping, Sweden's fifth biggest city, which is running its fleet of buses and rubbish lorries, a train line and some private taxis on biogas, from methane produced from the entrails of slaughtered cows. [See photo of world's first train running solely on biogas.]

But not all is fine and dandy. Swedes are in love with their gas-guzzling estate cars, and are among the worst vehicle polluters in the EU."

In response to the reporter's question - "is there anything Britain could learn from Sweden?", Emma Lindberg, a climate change expert at the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, answers:

"Impose a carbon tax. You would make it more attractive financially to go for green solutions than for carbon options."

"A carbon tax is the most cost-effective way to make carbon cuts and it does not prevent strong economic growth," adds Carlgren, the Swedish environment minister.

Thanks to Ed Mainland

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Published on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 in The Guardian
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