Stockholm hosts ‘clean fuels’ conference

A European conference on environmentally-friendly vehicles and fuels opened in Stockholm on Tuesday, featuring a showcase of products already on the market and a series of seminars on climate change.

The three-day meeting, called “Clean Vehicles and Fuels”, will focus on global warming and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, according to Hans Pohl, project leader for the event.

“Interest in clean cars and the new biofuels is now surging at the same pace as the price of oil,” Pohl said on the conference’s website.

The first day of the conference will focus on Sweden, whose “clean car initiative is on the cutting edge; the country has made much more progress in the field than the rest of Europe,” the site said.

According to the industrial automobile organisation Bil Sweden, the country of nine million people is expected to sell 12,000 clean cars this year compared to 7,000 in 2003, and as many as 20,000 in 2006.

In October, the world’s first train to run on biogas, a renewable energy source made up of organic waste, went into daily traffic in Sweden. The train links the city of Linköping, just south of Stockholm, to the east coast town of Västervik some 80 kilometres away.

The final two days of the conference will be dedicated to international issues, featuring seminars by experts and specialists in the fields of transport, energy, biofuels, and the environment.

“The purpose of the two-day seminar is to provide a broad overview of the clean vehicle and fuel situation,” said Arne Johansson, who is responsible for the conference’s program.

Biofuels are made of organic waste and can be divided into two groups: ethanol fuels, which are known as biogas and are made of wheat and beets and soon of corn as well; and biodiesels, made of rape and sunflower oils.



Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English.