State of the union – Northern Sweden a guiding example

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, delivered her first ‘State of the union’ speech on September 16. An economic recovery in line with the European Green Deal was launched as one of the key priorities for the EU Commission’s work the coming year. Northern Sweden’s work with fossil-free steel production Hybrit was highlighted as a guiding example in mitigating climate change.

In her first annual address to the European Parliament, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen presented her vision for a green, digital and more resilient Europe with increased capacity to tackle future health crisis. She started off to honour Europe’s effort to handle the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and argued that Europe has a challenging time of recovery ahead. Next Generation EU, the recovery instrument of €750 billion which the EU leader agreed upon in July 2020, will therefore be essential for enabling a socio-economic recovery of the European societies. 

Fossil-free steel through the HYBRIT technique is taking the lead within the green deal

President von der Leyen stressed that Next Generation EU is as much about tackling climate change, as it is about ensuring economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. 37 percent of the recovery instrument will therefore go to measurements addressing the objectives of the European Green Deal, the political framework aiming to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. A decreased dependence on fossil fuel is crucial in meeting the goal of decreased climate impact. The progress made on fossil-free steel in the Norrbotten county, northern Sweden, was pointed out as a guiding example of an industry already adapting towards a low carbon-economy.

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall (Swedish based companies) came together in 2016 to find a solution to the high climate impact caused from steel making. The so called HYBRIT technique aims to replace coking coal, which traditionally is used for ore-based steel making, with hydrogen. Sweden, and particularly northern regions such as Norrbotten, has unique opportunities of realising this kind of project thanks to good access to renewable electricity and an innovative steel and iron ore industry. The initiative is moreover not only a first step towards a fossil-free steel industry, but also a guiding example for other EU-countries on how innovative technology and collaborative partnerships can lead to reduced climate impact. 

Read more about HYBRIT here. 

Read or listen to President von der Leyen’s speech here.

/Elin Johnson

North Sweden in the EU

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