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ENVIRONMENT

Sweden lags in Baltic Sea protection efforts

Sweden is not meeting its targets for restoring the Baltic sea, and neither are any of the other eight countries bordering the sea, according to a report published on Monday by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Sweden lags in Baltic Sea protection efforts

The Baltic Action Plan was signed in Krakow, Poland, in 2007, with the aim of restoring the Baltic Sea’s marine environments by 2021 with cooperation from the nine countries bordering the sea.

On Monday, the WWF stated that all of the countries are not up to scratch in following the 56 proposed actions to save the sea, and that they all appear destined to fail in each objective by 2021.

Objectives include eutrophication, pollution, shipping and biodiversity. Sweden is particularly lacking when it comes to meeting the target for biodiversity protection, being the worst of the Baltic Sea countries.

Sweden was ranked equal third with Estonia in the report, following Finland and Germany. Lithuania and Russia claimed the bottom places.

“This is urgent. All countries are far behind. If they do not make a real effort, the entire plan risks being overturned,” Håkan Wirtén, Secretary General of WWF, said in a statement.

“To avoid or postpone investments to protect and restore the Baltic Sea is not responsible behaviour. Nor is this something that we who live around the sea can accept. The later we act, the more expensive it becomes,” said Åsa Andersson, Director of WWF’s aquatic unit.

The Baltic Sea, one of the world’s largest brackish water bodies, is in danger due to the increasing human usage of the water, but also because of its low level of water exchange.

The Baltic Sea countries will meet on October 3rd in Copenhagen to oversee the action plans.

TT/The Local/ep

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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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