Mixed reactions to EU emission targets

Sweden's government on Wednesday welcomed an ambitious EU project to fight climate change, but Swedish industry insisted it was unfair to make the Scandinavian country bear one of the heaviest burdens.

Mixed reactions to EU emission targets

“We plan to take on a leadership role,” Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters in Stockholm, adding that Sweden was “well-placed” to meet the new EU targets.

His comment came after the European Commission unveiled a strategy to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent over the next 12 years and boost renewable energy use to 20 percent of all power consumption during the same period.

The national targets, based on each country’s gross domestic product (GDP) vary widely, and Sweden has been asked to increase its percentage of renewable energy use from nearly 40 percent to 49 percent in 2020 — the highest goal in the bloc.

The Scandinavian country has also been asked to cut its CO2 emissions by 17 percent, the third most ambitious EU target after Luxemburg and Denmark.

“If there’s any country that can succeed at this it is Sweden,” Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson told reporters.

In the run-up to the Commission’s announcement, Olofsson said Sweden had voiced concerns that it might be “punished” for having voluntarily started early and done more than other countries to cut emissions and transfer to renewable energy.

But “now we’ve landed in a distribution of the burden,” she said, adding that Stockholm had “understanding for the fact that (cutting emissions) is harder for the new member countries,” which received less ambitious national targets.

Swedish industry was not so empathetic.

“The fact is that we are already at the top of the class in several areas, but we have not been given credit for the work we’ve already done,” Urban Bäckström, who heads the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, told financial daily Dagens Industri’s website.

“The government needs to negotiate down the Swedish targets,” he insisted.