Sunday, August 20, 2006

Swedish Models...

Ahhhh... the old Swedish models pun - a classic for sustainability geeks here in Sweden. Below are the results of an initial report from Sweden's Commission on Oil Independence - this is an ambitious plan to break Sweden's oil addiction by 2020. It is inspiring in its pro-active, strategic approach. Of course it's not perfect, and not everything would transfer to the US, but there is certainly something to take from this approach:

Press release 28 June 2006

Prime Minister's Office
Commission on Oil Independence presents its report

The Commission on Oil Independence was appointed by the Government in
December 2005. Its remit was to present a concrete strategy to break Sweden's dependence on oil by 2020 - so there will be alternatives should prices rise - and tangibly reduce our actual use of oil. In this way, Sweden will be in a better position to secure its long-term energy supply, reduce climate impact, develop new technology, improve competitiveness and make better use of energy resources from forestry and agriculture. The Commission presented its report today.

Commenting on the report, Prime
Minister Göran Persson says: "The report is an important first step towards Sweden becoming independent of oil. My assessment is that this can be difficult to achieve by 2020. Moreover, the rate of progress is affected by a number of factors that are outside the scope of national policy. The clear direction of the report is a good basis for positive development. "The Commission's work has been characterised by its members' expertise in industry, agriculture and forestry, science and energy efficiency. All of them have been prepared to compromise. No one has reached their own optimal position on every issue. The result has been a consensus report. There is one single issue on which we have not agreed: whether Sweden should press to abolish Europe's protective tariffs on its own ethanol production. In every other respect, the Commission is in total agreement."

"I am now hoping for a broad discussion on the Commission's proposals so that the report can contribute to increased knowledge and offensive action from industry and consumers as well as from the agricultural and forestry sectors. The report will form the basis of the further work - analyses, inquiries, and proposals - that is necessary to develop a policy that can consolidate and develop Sweden as a pioneer in the transition to sustainable development." Commission Secretary-General Stefan Edman says: "The Commission's report opens up many exciting opportunities for Sweden. We show that by taking measures at this stage, it is possible to counter a future oil shortage and rising oil prices in a way that also promotes development, growth and employment. The report also indicates a number of conflicting objectives. I am convinced, for example, that it is possible to find a balance between increased forestry production and ambitious goals for biological diversity and nature conservation."

Conclusions of the report Overall objectives and measures The Commission has worked to ensure that Sweden will be able achieve the following objectives by 2020:
· energy efficiency improvement in society as a whole by at least 20 per cent,
· 40-50 per cent less petrol and diesel in road transport,
· 25-40 per cent less oil in industry,

· no oil for the heating of residential and commercial buildings. A special centre for energy efficiency is proposed. Its task will be to move issues forward, evaluate and submit annual reports to the Government and Riksdag on energy efficiency in homes, vehicles and industry.

Alternative fuels
The greatest consumption of oil products takes place on the roads. To break this dependence, a rapid increase in the use of alternative fuels is necessary. Production of fuel from the Swedish forestry and agriculture sectors must increase.

The Commission proposes the following measures.

· New plants. The Government should contribute to the initiation of a number
of pilot and demoplants to start production of "second generation biofuels" such as synthetic gas fuels, forest-based ethanol and biogas from the bio-based raw materials that are most efficient from the point of view of acreage and energy.
· Increased forest take-off. Forest growth needs to be increased in the long
term by 15-20 per cent through more efficient management in the form of clearing, thinning out, refined plant material, ditch clearing and fertilisation as well as through intensive cultivation of spruce and broad-leaf trees on a few per cent of the acreage.
· Energy crops. Arable land and disused, non-afforested farmland can be cultivated with energy crops and energy broad-leaf trees on a scale of 300 000-500 000 hectares.
· Demand for biovehicles. Promotion of vehicles running on alternative fuels
should continue through measures at national as well as local level. Public procurement can contribute to technological development. Government agencies should procure vehicles with new technology, thus accelerating the phasing out of fossil fuels and putting a premium on efficient vehicles. More efficient transport Potential fuel production is limited by the acreage of forest and arable land, as well as by the energy used in the production process. If availability of alternative fuels in the future is to meet the demand, fuel consumption of cars and lorries must be reduced.
· More efficient vehicles. By such means as hybrid cars, an increased
proportion of diesel-run vehicles, renewal of the vehicle fleet and better materials, Swedish cars could become on average 2550 per cent more efficient by 2020. The Commission would like to see greater incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
· Environmental classification. Fuel efficiency should be included as a factor in environmental classification of cars. The Commission recommends that consideration be given to the different size groups for cars. In this way, the necessary technological development can be pursued on a broad front in all the various car classes.
· Energy labelling. To make consumer choice easier, consideration should be given to introducing an energy-labelling system. Such systems currently exist in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
· Planning. Traffic planning can be improved by the use of systems including ITS (intelligent transport systems) and GPS. Car-pooling should be encouraged.

The Commission also proposes a series of measures to improve efficiency and
reduce goods transport on the roads, to strengthen the public transport system and railways and encourage the use of IT, for instance, to increase distance work.

Residential and commercial buildings
The use of oil for heating has decreased rapidly in recent decades. To do away in practice with all the oil used for heating, an increase in biofuels and greater energy efficiency are essential.
· New construction. Incentives for new production of low-energy buildings should be created. The Commission recommends the introduction of stricter building regulations and new incentives to encourage building in an energy-efficient way.
· Rebuilding and modernisation. Energy efficiency programmes are proposed to
provide increased knowledge and greater motivation to modernise existing residential and commercial buildings - not least in the "million homes programme" - for improved energy efficiency. A reduction in direct electric heating should be speeded up. The Government should lead the way in efforts to improve efficiency.
· Thermal power technology. District heating has a central role in the
phasing out of oil. Existing and future power stations should be supplemented by thermal power technology so they are able to produce electricity as well as heat.

Industry The Commission has set the ambition that half the heating oil used in industry must be replaced by biofuels by 2020 and that oil for industrial processes must be replaced whenever possible by biofuels or energy gases.
· Policy instruments. Incentives may be needed if the oil used for heating or steam is to be replaced by biofuels or district heating.
· Efficiency improvement. Greater cooperation between institutes of technology and primary industries could promote improvements in energy efficiency. Major benefits could also be gained by mapping energy use and efficiency improvement programmes drawn up jointly by company management and employees.
· Knowledge. Small and medium-sized enterprises should be provided with
supplementary support through energy offices and energy consultants.

Research The Commission also indicates a series of research and development projects that could be decisive in the long term for further reducing our oil use. This includes projects on solar cells, fuel cells, hybrid vehicles, wave energy and improvements in energy systems in residential buildings and industry.

Background to the Commission on Oil Independence Prime Minister Göran Persson chaired the Commission, which comprised: Professor Christian Azar, Chalmers University of Technology Lars Andersson, Chair, Government bioenergy inquiry Lotta Bångens, Chair, Sweden's Energy Advisers Birgitta Johansson-Hedberg, CEO, Swedish Farmers' Supply and Crop Marketing Association Leif Johansson, CEO, AB Volvo Göran Johnsson, former Chair, Swedish Metal Workers' Union Christer Segersteen, Chair, Federation of Swedish Forest Owners Lisa Sennerby-Forsse, Secretary-General, Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, newly-appointed Rector, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The Commission Staff comprised Stefan Edman, biologist and writer, and Anders Nylander, architect and energy expert.

They worked openly, and
throughout the spring they held a large number of meetings with the actors concerned, the media and other interested parties. Four public hearings were arranged and attracted considerable interest in Sweden and around the world:
· 13 December 2005: Will oil run out - and if so, when?
· 20 January 2006: Sweden's green gold - what potential do forestry and agriculture offer for bioenergy, now and in the future?
· 17 February 2006: How can we reduce dependence on petrol and other fossil fuels in the transport sector?
· 22 March 2006: How can we reduce dependence on oil and other fossil fuels
for heating and power production?

The Commission's report is published on the Government website at

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