Sweden and Washington state are in agreement that we are facing a global climate crisis that requires aggressive policies, bold legislation and accelerated actions. With the U.S. withdrawal from the most important international agreement on climate change, the Paris Agreement, it has become even more crucial for Sweden to continue working with stakeholders and entities within the U.S. that remain committed to ambitious climate action, such as Washington state.
Sweden will be the world’s first fossil-free welfare country. By 2045, Sweden is to have net zero emissions, not only because it is our responsibility to future generations and our great natural wealth but because it makes economic sense.
Sweden has broken the link between carbon emissions and increased GDP. Since 1990, emissions have decreased by 26% while GDP has increased by 78%. Sweden will lead the way and show that a fossil-free world is not only possible, but it can promote economic prosperity. I am inspired to see that Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed new legislation that will align Washington state emission targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve net zero emission by 2050.
The Swedish government proposed its first climate policy action plan to our parliament one month ago, and now the climate will be integrated into all relevant policy areas. Even though we have come a long way, it is not enough. Sweden, just like Washington state, needs to combat one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation.
The transport sector is responsible for a third of Sweden’s emissions of greenhouse gases and thus plays a significant role in the climate transition. By 2030, the climate impact of Sweden’s transport sector should be 70% lower than in 2010. The Swedish government has appointed an inquiry to offer proposals on how to implement a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars, and when fossil fuels should be phased out. Sweden is mainly focusing on stimulating technological developments and replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. We look forward to following Washington state’s steps to making cleaner fuels and cleaner cars.
Sweden’s historic ties to Washington are strong, and one reason why I am visiting the state this week to explore business opportunities and examine possible future collaborations in green innovation. Approximately 228,000 Washington residents are of Swedish descent, and there are around 40 Swedish affiliated companies in the state, supporting almost 8,000 jobs. Many businesses in Sweden have realized that climate change adaptation leads to new business opportunities, technologies and social solutions. Today, 13 business sectors in Sweden have developed road maps for becoming fossil free by the middle of this century — and more are underway.
The climate emergency is a serious threat to global prosperity and security if we do not end our dependence on fossil fuels. Sweden cannot solve the climate crisis single-handedly, but we can lead by example and join forces with U.S. partners who are equally convinced that we need to take bold actions now.