Last week I spent two fascinating days in Uppsala, talking to students about UK views on the future of Europe, and meeting local politicians, businesses and academics.
I stressed, as I did at a meeting with the British-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, the UK’s commitment to the EU, but also our recognition of the need for reform.
We had a top UK politician in Stockholm last week.
The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, met his Swedish counterparts, Anna-Karin Hatt and Lena Ek. He also talked to actual and potential Swedish investors in the UK.
There’s a huge opportunity for Swedish investors in the UK energy market. We need £110 billion investment over the next decade to replace our ageing energy infrastructure (coal fired power plants and nuclear energy) with a more diverse and low-carbon energy mix, particularly more renewable energy.
We start the process of decarbonising our economy a long way behind Sweden, given your natural advantages. Our aim is to have 15% of our energy from renewable by 2020 (which is our EU target), whereas Sweden is already, I think, getting more than triple that, almost half its energy, from renewables.
But we’re committed to meeting our goals: indeed we’ve set a long term goal of cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050; that is why it is so important that we increase the share of our energy we get from renewables alongside other low carbon technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
Ed Davey and Lena Ek talked to their Danish and Dutch counterparts about the need to make the case, in the EU and beyond, for a Green Growth strategy, showing that making the planet healthier is fully compatible with continuing to grow our economies. That will also be a theme when David Cameron goes to Latvia to meet his Nordic and Baltic counterparts at the third Northern Future Forum this week.