Green concessions to get budget passed

A raft of environmentally-friendly policies have been announced as part of government attempts to secure the support of the Green Party for the budget.

According to the Green Party’s negotiator Åsa Domeij, the government has agreed to bring forward a bill imposing stricter controls on mink farmers. The Greens say that the new rules, which would include larger cages and swimming facilities for the animals, would in practice mean that mink farming would become financially unviable in Sweden.

According agriculture minister Ann-Christine Nykvist, mink farmers who stop farming the creatures will be compensated.

“They might be given help in refocusing their companies, or help in retraining, or financial compensation,” she said.

Other proposals put forward include stricter controls on animal testing. From next year, the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency will have exclusive responsibility for issuing permits for animal testing, and according to the new proposals would have to follow tightened regulations about the types of animal testing allowed.

The other big announcement was the requirement that large petrol stations in Sweden will be required to sell ethanol or other environmentally-friendly fuels from the beginning of next year. The new law will affect one in four petrol stations, which will receive no special funding for the changes. The Green Party claims that the fuel companies are well able to bear the cost of adapting their forecourts.

Domeij said that the new requirements, along with tax breaks introduced over the past few years for cars that use alternative fuels, will encourage a boom in the market for green cars.

“I believe that from next year green cars will start to form a large part of the company car market in Sweden,” said Domeij.

The concessions will help the Social Democrats to gain Green Party votes as it prepares the budget. The Social Democrats, while not in a formal alliance with the Greens, needs their support to win a majority in parliament.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Sveriges Radio