Scandinavians take legislative steps to slash their carbon emissions


On 15 June 2017, the Swedish Parliament took a decision on the most important climate reform in the country’s history. Sweden committed to cutting its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045, becoming the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The lawmakers voted 254 to 41 in favour of the proposal, which was developed by a committee involving seven out of eight parliamentary parties.

“All countries need to actively show how they take responsibility for the climate issue. Today’s decision shows that Sweden will continue to be a leader in the global effort to realise the Paris Agreement’s ambitious goals. The climate can not wait. This Climate Act is the most important reform that our generation’s politicians conduct for our children and grandchildren,” commented Climate Minister Isabella Lövin in a media release.

The legislation establishes an independent Climate Policy Council and requires an action plan to be updated every four years.

Two weeks after the decision in Parliament, the Sweden-based car manufacturer Volvo announced that is set to become the first of the world’s major car makers to wave goodbye to the traditional internal combustion engine. Starting in 2019, Volvo will only be producing cars with electric motors, or hybrids – vehicles that run on combined electric and petrol-driven engines. Volvo plans to launch five new models – all either fully or partially electric – between 2019 and 2021. Read more


Norway also recently set new climate targets, announcing on 2 June 2017 that they will reduce their emissions by 30 million tonnes of carbon in the period from 2021 to 2030 in order to become what they call “climate neutral” by 2030.

Norway plans to ban petrol powered cars by 2025. Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have reportedly reached some concrete conclusions about 100 per cent of Norwegian cars running on green energy by 2025. Currently, the government subsidises electric cars and six out of the seven most sold car brands in Norway are electric.


And Denmark? According to the Danish Climate Council’s latest report, it appears that the Løkke government is mostly occupied with drilling holes in EU climate regulation, so that Denmark can get away with reducing as little as possible by 2030.

Denmark has a goal of Denmark becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050, and the government has set a target that 50 per cent of its energy should be generated by renewable energy sources by 2030.

While Denmark already has relatively high percentage of renewable energy generation in its electricity grid – in 2016 it was 43 per cent and at times the wind turbines generate more power than is being consumed within the country’s borders – the government keeps renewing fossil fuel licences and even subsidises exploration for more oil extraction in the North Sea. Most recently the Danish government announced it wants to start new fracking projects, drilling for oil on the islands Lolland and Falster.

» – 4 July 2017:
Minister: Danmark skal være et førende olie- og gasland (‘Minister: Denmark to become a leading oil and gas country’)

» State of Green – 26 June 2017:
Energy can help Denmark fulfil climate goals

A new political party, named ‘The Climate Democrats’, was recently born in Denmark. “Denmark needs a new party that puts the environment, the climate and quality of life first and stands for a transparent and citizen-engaging democracy,” they write on their home page,

Danish wind power compared with the rest of EU

European Union targets

Denmark and Sweden are part of the European Union which in 2014 set three key targets in its 2030 climate and energy framework:

• At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)
• At least 27% share for renewable energy
• At least 27% improvement in energy efficiency

» EU 2030 climate & energy framework

More info about the Swedish and Norwegian carbon lawmaking below.


“The new climate law is an important victory, not only for Sweden, but for everyone who cares about the future of our environment.”
~ Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF

Sweden already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, and the country was able to meet its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule.

The new climate law in Sweden introduces a climate policy framework for Sweden containing the country’s new climate goals, a Climate Act and plans for a climate policy council. The following has been translated from the Swedish law texts:

A climate policy framework for Sweden


The committee proposes that the Swedish Parliament adopts the government’s climate change proposals, approves what the government proposes on the objectives of the Swedish climate policy and on the specification of the environmental quality target Limited Climate Impact and that the Parliament rejects the claims in two successive motions, including rejection of the suggestion in the sections relating to climate law and goals for Swedish environmental policy. Furthermore, the committee proposes that the Parliament rejects any motions from the general running time 2016/17.

In the bill, the government proposes to establish a climate policy framework for Sweden. The climate policy work should be based on a long-term, scheduled emission target set by the Parliament. The goal is that by 2045 at the latest, Sweden will not have any greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and hereafter will achieve negative emissions.

Emissions from operations in Swedish territory should be at least 85 percent lower than 1990 emissions. In order to achieve net zero emissions, additional measures are to be taken into account. The emissions in Sweden that will be covered by the EU Distribution Regulation, the so-called ESR sector, should be at least 63 percent lower than 1990 emissions by 2030. A maximum of 8 percentage points of emissions reductions may be achieved through complementary measures.

By 2040, emissions in Sweden in the ESR sector should be at least 75 percent lower than 1990 emissions. A maximum of 2 percentage points of emissions reductions may be achieved through complementary measures.

Greenhouse gas emissions from domestic transport – excluding domestic aviation that are part of the EU emissions trading system – will decrease by at least 70 percent by 2030 compared to 2010.

Parts of the climate policy framework will be regulated by introducing a new climate law. The Act contains basic provisions on government climate policy work. The new law is proposed to come into force on 1 January 2018.

The committee proposes a notice to the Government on the occasion of the motions from the general running time 2016/17. According to the committee, climate policy should be long-term efficient and pursued so that reduced greenhouse gas emissions are combined with growth. The committee proposes that the Parliament rejects other motions, primarily with reference to the government’s assessments in the bill and the ongoing work. Certain motions give rise to the same or essentially the same issues that the Parliament discussed earlier in the parliamentary term, and these are therefore dealt with in a specific section.

The report contains 32 reservations (S, M, SD, MP, C, V, L, KD).

Proposals dealt with:
• Proposition 2016/17: 146 – A climate policy framework for Sweden.
• Six claims in sequential motions.
• One hundred claims in motions from the general running time 2016/17.

» – June 2017:
The climate policy framework [in English language]

Government’s bill:

A climate policy framework for Sweden

Environment and Agriculture Committee report
2016/17: MJU24 – ANNEX 2 – Page 147

Proposal for the climate change act
This proposal provides for the following:

Section 1: This Act contains provisions for the Government’s climate policy work, what the work should be aimed at and how it should be done.

Section 2: The Government shall undertake climate policy work that:

1. aims to prevent hazardous disruption in the climate system;

2. contributes to protecting ecosystems as well as present and future generations against harmful effects of climate change;

3. focuses on reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and preserving and restoring functions in the natural environment that counteract climate change and its harmful effects; and

4. rests on a scientific foundation and is based on relevant technical, social, economic and environmental considerations.

Section 3: The Government’s climate policy work shall be based on the long-term scheduled emissions target set by the Parliament.

The government must set the other emission reduction targets that are needed in order to achieve the long-term goal.

The work shall be conducted in such a way that it allows for climate policy and budgetary policy objectives to interact with and support each other.

Section 4: The Government shall submit every year a climate report to the Parliament in the budget proposal.

The climate report shall contain:

1. An account of the emissions development;

2. An account of the most important decisions within the area of climate policy during the year and what those decisions may mean for the production of greenhouse gas emissions; and

3. An assessment of whether further measures are needed and when and how decisions on such measures in that case can be taken.

Section 5: The Government shall produce a climate policy action plan every four years. The action plan shall be submitted to the Parliament a year after the ordinary elections to the Parliament have been held.

The action plan should contain a description of:

1. Sweden’s commitments within the EU and internationally;

2. historical emission data which refers greenhouse gases up to the latest reported emission inventory;

3. predicted emissions reductions;

4. the outcome of measures taken for emission reductions;

5. planned emission reduction measures with an approximate indication of when these measures may take effect;

6. the extent to which decided and planned emission reduction measures can be expected to contribute to achieving the national and global climate objectives;

7. the extent to which decided and planned actions in different spending areas affect the ability to achieve national and global climate targets; and

8. what additional measures or decisions may be needed to achieve the national and global climate targets.

This law enters into force on 1 January 2018.

» Source: The bill was translated by Google and Philip Sutton.

» Video of the debate and vote [in Swedish language]

» Vote in Parliament

» Protokoll

Media coverage in English language:

» Climate Change News – 15 June 2017:
Sweden passes climate law to become carbon neutral by 2045

» Pacific Standard – 16 June 2017:
Sweden passes ambitious climate law to be carbon neutral by 2045

» New Scientist – 20 June 2017:
Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 with new law

Media coverage in Swedish language:

» Effekt – 16 June 2017:
Sverige får en klimatlag
“Riksdagen har röstat ja till förslaget om ett klimatpolitiskt ramverk.”

Media coverage in Norwegian language:

» Naturpress – 16 June 2017:
Sverige får sin klimalov 1. januar 2018


Norway’s climate target

Norway has ambitious climate targets that are rooted in the Climate Change Act from 2011–2012 and in the Parliament’s communication on new emissions commitment by 2030 from 2014-2015, consent to the ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2015, and the new Climate Act which was adopted by the Norwegian Parliament in June 2017. The Climate Act states:

1. By 2020, Norway will cut global emissions of greenhouse gases corresponding to 30 per cent of Norway’s emissions in 1990.

2. Norway has assumed a conditional obligation of at least 40 percent reduction in emissions in 2030 compared with 1990.

3. Norway shall be climate neutral in 2030.

4. Norway has legislated a goal of becoming a low-emissons society in 2050.

5. Reduced emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest devaluation in developing countries, in accordance with sustainable development goals.

6. Political goal that society must be prepared for and adapted to climate change.

Norway’s 2020 target will be followed up under the Kyoto Protocol, while the 40-percent target for 2030 has been reported to the UN as Norway’s contribution under the Paris Agreement and enacted in the Climate Act. The goal of Norway becoming a low-emission society in 2050 is enshrined in the Climate Act.

Parliamentary Announcement 41 (2016-2017):

Climate strategy for 2030 – Norwegian transformation in European cooperation

Recommendation from the Ministry of Climate and Environmental Affairs, June 16, 2017, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers the same day. (Government Solberg) Message to the Norwegian Parliament

The announcement presents the government’s strategy for meeting the climate commitment by 2030. The announcement states that the government is working to fulfill the Paris commitment with the EU. Through such cooperation, the 2030 target for non-quota releases will be reached with the emphasis on domestic emissions reductions and with the necessary use of the EU regulatory flexibility mechanisms. The non-quota releases come mainly from transport, agriculture, construction and waste, but also from industry and petroleum activities. The report describes that the government’s strategy for 2030 facilitates significant emission reductions nationally.

» Source:

» Read the document online

» Download the document (PDF)

Media coverage in Norwegian language:

» Naturpress – 2 June 2017:
I dag fikk Norge en klimalov
“I den nye loven blir det slått fast at utslippsnivået skal reduseres med minst 40 prosent i 2030.”