Climate researchers warn of Stockholm floods

Certain areas of Stockholm, including the main traffic and rail junction of Slussen, are increasingly at risk of flooding, prompting the government to consider increased taxes on greenhouse gas emissions.

Gunn Persson, a researcher at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institue (SMHI), told Aftonbladet that there is a chance that underground stations could be completely filled with water.

“A flood could occur at any time in the area around Slussen,” she said.

Other areas in Stockholm under risk for floods are: Ulvsunda, Solvalla and Årsta Holmar. The warning comes following an increase in the average temperature, which is leading to more rain during autumn and winter. This extra water fills channels, lakes and streams, threatening low-lying areas and those near to a body of water.

In Stockholm, a cloudburst could stop all underground trains in the area of Slussen and Gamla Stan.

“There is already an immediate risk that Lake Mälaren floods, but the future scenario can be even worse,” Gunn Persson told Aftonbladet.

The big villains are cars and trucks. To control the emission of gases, the government is considering imposing a tax on large freight vehicles, but this requires EU approval.

Environment minister Lena Sommerstad said she is concerned about the threat and will shortly appoint a team to map out the risks for floods and landslides.

According to Dagens Nyheter, in order to avoid floods in the underground stations in Stockholm, something has to be done to make it easier to empty Lake Mälaren.

Stockholm’s inhabitants tasted the consequences of global warming in the autumn of 2000. Fields and meadows in the islands of Lake Mälaren were under water and Gamla Stan’s underground station was close to being inundated.

But Annika Billström, the mayor of Stockholm, is not losing any sleep over the issue.

“We have a plan prepared in case something happens,” she said.

She told DN that the important thing is to be able to increase the flow from Mälaren substantially.

“It would help, but that wouldn’t necessarily be enough,” said Gunn Persson at SMHI. She is worried that Stockholm, like many other cities, is building too much, too close to the water.

“I understand that people want to live by the water. But sometimes I do wonder about how close to the water people have their living rooms.”

Again, Annika Billström seemed unconcerned.

“No one is building so much that there is risk for the apartments to be filled with water,” she said.

But recent studies have shown that the emission of greenhouse gases in Sweden, which had decreased for several years, is now on the rise again.

“What we need now is a big international cooperation to solve this problem. A tax on big trucks could be part of the solution, environmental-fees for airplanes another,” said Lena Sommerstad to DN.

“But if we don’t try to do something to control the emissions of gases, the weather will act in ways we can’t even expect. Things will start going crazy if we continue to take fossil fuel and let it out in the atmosphere.”

So the government has created ‘Climate Investment Programs’ (Klimp) designed to encourage companies, cities and even individuals to react to the global warming and do something to help stop it.

The goal is that 30 different projects around the country will help to decrease the emission of greenhouse gas by 170 000 tons.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Aftonbladet