EU Climate Policy
Climate issues have been given a whole new focus at EU level in all institutions this mandate period. In its strategic agenda for 2019-2024, the European Council highlights "a climate-neutral, green, equitable and social Europe" as one of four priorities where climate change is seen as an opportunity to modernize society and at the same time become a world leader in the green economy. At the end of 2019, the European Parliament announced a climate emergency and the new EU Commission presented its Communication "The European Green Deal", the EU's new growth strategy to ensure that the climate aspects permeate all EU policies in the future.
With the goal of Europe becoming the first climate-neutral continent in 2050, the Green Deal sets the agenda for EU's work during the current mandate period. The communication consists of a roadmap and a package of measures intended to meet the climate and environmental challenges which EU is facing and to achieve a comprehensive green social change. This means new investments as well as a continuation of the work that has already begun to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 17 goals of the UN Agenda 2030.
The Green Deal concist of 50 initiatives, all aimed at reducing the negative impact of EU countries on the climate. These are measures to reduce emissions and energy use, protect biodiversity, secure a sustainable food policy and increase the recycling of goods. The Green Deal also includes efforts for clean and safe energy, construction and renovation, smart mobility and a holistic approach for a future without pollution in terms of both air, water and chemicals. The Commission wants to increase the EU target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to at least 50% compared to 1990 and to anchor the goal of climate neutrality in 2050 with binding climate targets in a new European climate law. In addition, an European climate pact will be launched to engage the public in environmental measures.
Europe's transition to a sustainable economy requires major investments in all sectors. In January 2020, the Commission presented a climate investment plan - the Investment Plan for a Sustainable Europe. The plan is to mobilize public and private funds using the various EU funding instruments aimed at investing 10,000 billion kronor (Swedish SEK) over ten years, an amount that can be compared to a Swedish city budget. As part of the investment plan, the Commission has also proposed a fair conversion mechanism, a financial and practical support package worth at least 100 billion euros to be targeted at carbon and carbon-intensive regions and sectors that are most affected by the transition.
North Sweden European Office and Climate Policy
Within the framework of climate policy, North Sweden influence and monitor EU policies and strategies related to environmental issues as well as energy and bio economy. There are many processes in the EU that affect how Sweden and Swedish stakeholders use land and water to create energy and bio-based products. In the green area, for example, a new forest strategy, a biodiversity strategy, a circular economy action plan and a zero-emission plan for water, soil, and air are included. There are also plans for a revision of the Energy Tax Directive and a review of the LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) and REDII (Renewable Energy Directive) regulations, which also to a large extent affect interests in Northern Sweden.
North Sweden works to secure and facilitate the development towards a bio-based socio-economic base based on the forest industry's raw materials. This work includes highlighting the importance of the role of active forestry in the EU's green transition, focusing on the growing forest's climate benefit and the use of forest biomass for the extraction of renewable energy and other products. North Sweden also acts to ensure that local conditions, such as cold climate and sparsity, are taken into account in the framework of EU legislation on water and sewage.
Climate Policy in North Sweden
Climate policy in northern Sweden Municipalities, regions and industries in northern Sweden are most affected by the EU's new climate-focused policy. Through its rich natural resources, northern Sweden has great opportunities to contribute to the green transition. Many efforts are already underway, not least among the energy-intensive industries, which is facilitated by a large supply of renewable energy sources such as wind power, hydropower, and bioenergy.
The region is one of Europe's most rich forest regions and is leading in terms of sustainable forestry, forest research, and climate-smart innovations. The access to biomass-based on residual flows in the forest industry is very good, which provides unique conditions for the production of biofuels which are indispensable in the transition to a sustainable energy system.
The green transition poses major challenges, but for the natural resource-rich regions of northern Sweden, it is possible to realize the objectives within energy and climate policy while strengthening the long-term competitiveness of the business in the region. The basic industry is an important part of the solution on the climate transition, partly because they have great opportunities to reduce their own emissions, and partly by providing the conditions for other industries and social functions to convert to a fossil-free production. The forest industry and its value chain are a major driver of growth in both rural and urban areas and at the same time a key part of the transition to a circular bioeconomy. There is also ongoing research in the region on the recycling of carbon dioxide in industrial processes, which is an important enabler for industrial development and reduced climate impact.
In collaboration with actors in both the public sector and academia and business, North Sweden works overall to ensure that the unique conditions and resources in northern Sweden are recognized and utilized, to promote climate-smart growth in both the region, as well in Sweden and in the EU.