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ENVIRONMENT

‘High speed trains offer no environmental benefit’: report

High speed railways are unprofitable and afford marginal climate gains, a new report penned by the Expert Group on Environmental Studies argues.

The group falls under the auspices of the ministry of finance and its report directly contradicts the government position.

If the money were instead to be invested in the global emissions trading system it would result in forty times the environmental benefit of the proposed railway from Stockholm to Malmö and Gothenburg, the report says.

The government wants to invest in the high-speed rail links in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and boost economic growth.

The expert group has however drawn entirely different conclusions, according to Jan-Eric Nilsson and Roger Pyddoke who presented the report to the government on Friday.

If the Götaland railway were to be constructed, Sweden would sustain a fiscal deficit of 16 billion kronor ($2.2 billion) and would cut annual emissions from the transport sector by 150,000 tonnes – less than one percent, they write in a debate article published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

If the money were instead placed in the international system of emissions rights trading then global emissions would decline by 40 times as much – 5.4 million tonnes per annum.

The National Rail Administration (Banverket) analysis also shows, according to Nilsson and Pydokke, that the project is unprofitable.

The benefit to society of the project does not even amount to its financial cost and comes in at only 89 percent, the pair argue.

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ALMEDALEN 2022

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. 

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