Environmental Issues in Sweden
Sweden is the largest
Scandinavian country, and its land mass is a little bigger than the
state of California. During the Second World War, Sweden declared
neutrality and was therefore largely untouched by the destruction to
its natural environment caused by that war. Its numerous forest
reserves, slower population growth and strong conservation movement
helped preserve a large number of national forests. By 2003, 9.2
percent of the total land in Sweden was protected. In the 1960s,
Sweden organized the first UN environmental conference to address
issues of loss of natural resources.
In the 1980s, the environment and expansion of nuclear energy were
hotly debated political issues. Expansion of nuclear power was
limited to 12 reactors in Sweden. Today Sweden has over 47 percent
of its energy resources in renewable resources, with a goal to reach
50 percent by 2020. Sweden's renewable energy resource percentage is
the highest in the European Union(EU). Currently, Sweden has 16
stated environmental goals to be achieved by the year 2020. For the
years 2013-2016, approximately SEK 22 billion will be devoted to
pursuing improved environmental quality. The goals cover 16 unique
areas for improvement, ranging from topics like unpolluted air and
lakes to environmentally balanced forests and farmland. Specifics on
the progress of these environmental goals can be found at
www.miljomal.se. Eight different governmental agencies interact to
work on achieving these 16 environmental goals. Sweden has had an
Environmental Code enacted since 1999 to create a healthy and
sustainable environment. Sweden also requires strict impact
assessments in a wide range of areas before any business can
undertake potentially environmentally hazardous projects.
An area of concern for countries along the Baltic Sea rim is the
pollution of the Baltic Sea due to emissions from agriculture and
waste treatment plants. Improvement in this area requires
international cooperation of the EU countries on the rim. Sweden was
a leader during its 2009 presidency of the EU in creating a pilot
project for cooperation in the Baltic Sea area. In 2011, it also
created a new government agency, the Swedish Agency for Marine and
Water Management, to help address these water related issues.
Another one of Sweden's environmental threats is the acidification
of its lakes. Sweden's continued industrialization and growth of
urban areas in the south has created both a water quality issue and
a threat to native flora and fauna. Sweden has worked since 1990 to
reduce acidity in its lakes. Fish still cannot breed in more than
16,000 lakes. Sweden has faced its water quality challenges and
become a leader in providing good drinkable tap water and addressing
water management issues.
Timber harvesting in Sweden's forests has become more socially
responsible, but environmental issues still include the over
harvesting of wood for pulp production, causing a loss of forest
habitat for birds and plant life. More than 2,000 forest species are
still considered threatened.
Today, Sweden is an acknowledged leader in environmental protection.
Sweden has become a European leader in recycling and waste disposal
management. Since 2005, Sweden has banned the sale of plastic drink
bottles that do not conform to an approved recycling program.
Sweden's greenhouse gas emissions are one of the lowest in the EU.
Emissions have been reduced by almost 20 percent since 1990 with a
goal of 40 percent by 2020. Sweden's corporations successfully
engage in socially responsible business practices and Swedish
companies like Ikea are considered business and environmental
leaders. Sweden also works closely with the United States to advance
environmental sustainability and clean technologies under their "
Green Alliance" (SAGA).
2013, All Rights Reserved