Sweden aims to be the first country free of fossil fuels by 2050
Recently, there seems to be an uptick in small nations or islands setting their sights on becoming increasingly, or completely, powered by non-fossil fuel energy sources, particularly renewables such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power. This is welcomed news in a world that – despite recent advances in tackling climate change by the U.S. and China – remains relatively paralyzed in its ability to make substantial changes to how it deals with climate change.
Sweden is progressing full speed ahead toward its goal of becoming the first nation free from fossil fuels. The government has promised to spend 4.4 billion krona ($646 million) of its 2016 budget to move forward on the path to ditching fossil fuels by 2050. Sweden already relies heavily on renewable energy for the nation’s electricity needs, and the government is positioned to make hefty investments in even more clean energy projects, clean transportation alternatives, and smart power grids.
This year, Sweden was named the most sustainable country on Earth, an honor the government worked hard to achieve. The progress has been gradual, but Sweden’s leaps have been aggressive compared to many other countries. In 2014, the nation got two-thirds of its energy from clean and ‘low-carbon’ sources, and reportedly recycles a whopping 99 percent of garbage. To get closer to the 2050 goal, the government plans to increase investments in solar power eightfold between 2017 and 2019 for a total of $57 million.
Much of the funds for the green investments will come from heavy taxes on oil and other fossil fuels. The government also plans to close a number of airport and nuclear plants and sell off coal mines in order to pay for the clean energy projects. Sweden’s efforts have already inspired similar action in neighboring countries, like Denmark, and the whole of Scandinavia is getting greener as time rolls on. The Swedish government hopes the region will set an example for other nations at the United Nations climate talks, slated to take place this December in Paris.