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2018-02-15 | News

Swedish minister wants citizens to get “angry” about climate change.

"We need more citizens who are angry”, said Isabella Lövin, Swedish minister of Development Cooperation and Climate, during a discussion about how politics, technology and individuals can contribute to a smarter climate policy.

The EfD Initiative co-hosted the debate between climate minister Isabella Lövin, Thomas Sterner, Professor of Environmental Economics, and Chalmers Researchers David Andersson and Maria Grahn, which took place at the University of Gothenburg’s School of Business, Economics and Law on January 31, 2018.

Climate Minister Isabella Lövin pointed out that trade, finance and technology are central tools for creating a sustainable future. "We already have the resources in place to invest sustainably, but still we do not do it to the extent needed,” she said. “The climate crisis is already here, and we notice this since the last three years have been the warmest since measurement began, and through increasingly common extreme weather events, such as forest fires, floods and droughts. Poor people are most affected. For example, Africa's horn has had extreme drought for three years in a row”.

Sweden's climate target, to have no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, is the most ambitious in the world, Lövin said. Sweden also has a climate law as of January 1, 2018, and a climate policy council in place (where EfD researcher Åsa Löfgren is a member) to evaluate the government's climate policy.

"We are also internationally active in the climate field and Sweden has been a driving force, for example, behind the World Bank's decision to stop financing investments in oil and gas after 2019,” added Lövin. “Today we find it odd how smoking on flights was previously allowed, and in the same way we will think it was incomprehensible how we could in our time allow aid money to go to fossil investments.”

Thomas Sterner said that money is a strong policy instrument and showed a graph of marriages in Sweden. The curve suddenly shifts in height around 1989 because those who married later did not receive a widow´s pension. "Economic incentives affect the number of marriages, so why would they not affect our second big love affair, the car?” asked Sterner. “In other countries, people are amazed at Sweden´s high carbon tax, but the Swedes themselves do not even think about it. And we can probably do even more.”

David Andersson, a researcher in physical resource theory, said that guilt is a good source of energy for change. "We, the citizens should chase politicians to change society in an environmentally friendly direction, instead of politicians having to fight for the smallest aviation tax.”

Energy researcher Maria Grahn pointed out that technology can solve some of the problems.
"New technology can help us use less energy, other energy or fossil energy that does not create emissions. The sun is a brilliant example of an unending energy source and hydrogen can replace coal in steel production.”

The debate ended with the audience asking questions, including why taxes are not higher for frequent car drivers, about investments in Liquefied Natural Gas infrastructure in the Port of Gothenburg, and on coal-neutral fuels. "We politicians need to hear from the people that they want strong action," concluded Isabella Lövin.


How can politics, technology and individuals contribute to a smart climate policy? The panel was held at the School of Business, Economics, and Law, University of Gothenburg, January 31, 2018.
Participants were Isabella Lövin, Minister of Development Cooperation and Climate; Thomas Sterner, Professor of Environmental Economics at the School of Business, Economics, and Law;  David Andersson, Doctor of Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University; and Maria Grahn, Doctor of Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers. The panel debate was organized by the School of Economics in collaboration with EfD, CeCAR, Sea and Society and GMV.

Based on a Swedish text by: Eva Lundgren, translated by Karin Jonson