On 2nd February, the Swedish government unveiled a very ambitious new climate law. We are interviewing Jakop Dalunde, Green Swedish Member of the European Parliament, to find more about this.
1. We heard that the Swedish government has recently proposed a new climate law – congratulations! - Could you tell us a bit more about this? (key aspects of this new legislation, what they consist of, etc.)
First of all, the new climate law will make Sweden lower its carbon emissions by 85 percent over the next 30 years. Thus the law will give Sweden clear goals and a long-term climate policy. The current and future governments’ climate policies shall be guided by the law, similar to how fiscal framework laws regulate government spending. In this sense the climate law will force governments to develop action plans for cutting carbon emissions and report their results to Parliament annually.
2. Seven out of the eight political parties have agreed to pass this law. Was it difficult to convince each of them? Were there any arguments against?
Yes, that’s correct. An almost unanimous Parliament and all but one political party stands behind the climate law. Climate is an important issue in Swedish politics. It is fully possible to win an election on climate and environmental themes, as the Swedish Greens actually have done earlier, as the awareness of climate change and the urgency of changing the course is fairly high among the population. The law allows for flexibility in the mechanisms and instruments used to reach the climate goals.
3. How did this all happen? How was this made possible? What were the legislative and/or campaigning steps taken to make this law reality?
In the 2014 elections the climate law was the number one election promise for the Green Party. The new climate act is based on a report published by a bipartisan committee, thus securing a broad majority in Parliament. All parties except the populist right recognise climate change as being important. The view of action differs, but we still chose to participate in a broad based committee where the climate law was agreed upon. Public opinion would most likely punish a party if it went against measures to fight climate change.
4. What are the provisions that have been established to ensure that the climate effort will be continued over the long term, even if the political composition of the parliament/government changes?
The mere fact that all parties but one, the populist right-wingers, all stand behind the climate law should ensure that the policy line continues over the long term. It is perhaps only if the extreme right would enter the government that there is a slight chance that there would be deteriorations in the future, but for the time being I regard it as highly unlikely.
5. Which concrete positive developments/impact do you expect with this new law?
The law will create stability and enable long term planning on climate issues, both for public and private actors. This will likely promote climate investments and create more green jobs. It is certainly not impossible to combine emission reductions with a well-functioning economy, rather the contrary. We all know that a green economy creates more jobs and a clean environment improves our health. We hope to inspire other countries in Europe to follow our example, as well as the EU.
6. What are the next steps in terms of implementation?
The proposal will be sent to the Council on Legislation for scrutiny and then it will be submitted to Parliament.
7. We heard a lot about the now famous photo that went viral on social media (and which was really the best advertisement you could get for this new law) - where Swedish climate Minister Isabella Lövin appears trolling Trump’s abortion order photo. Could you describe where the idea came from and its impact?
Well, as Isabella Lövin said herself, it is up to the observer to interpret the photo and draw their own conclusions. But the photo shows that feminism and climate leadership go hand in hand. That is a strong message that clearly resonates around the world, hopefully also to the Trump Administration.