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Greenhouse gas emissions decrease

Greenhouse gas emissions from the Swedish economy fell by 8.1 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. This positive news emerged last week.

A reduction of around 8.1 percent per year is roughly the annual decrease that Sweden needs to make if the country is to achieve its climate goals. This statistic indicates a good start to the 2020s in this respect. It also shows the importance of the rapid publication of quarterly statistics that enables us to monitor developments more easily, at a time when the rate of decrease needs to be accelerated.

However, is it reasonable to think that this reduction is due to the effects of Covid-19? Hmmm, this impacted the final weeks of the first quarter and one can see in the graph below that the added value (that is to say the contribution to GDP) for the same period rose somewhat. The powerful impact that Covid-19 has had on the Swedish economy had therefore not yet started to take effect.

One can see in the graph that, above all, the fall was due to the 30 percent reduction in emissions from the energy sector instead. This was partly a consequence of the mild winter. According to Statistics Sweden however, the primary reason was replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. This, in turn, was due in part to the change in taxes on fossil fuels. This shows that political decisions can sharply reduce emissions. Although this is something we have known for quite some time, it is an important lesson to bear in mind. While technology is often available, financial incentives are required to make use of it.


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