27th Feb 2020

Sweden aims to be world’s first oil-free country

Sweden aims to become the world’s first oil-free country by 2020, the Swedish minister for sustainable development Mona Sahlin has announced.

"A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices. The price of oil has tripled since 1996," said Ms Sahlin, according to the Guardian.

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The idea is to combine tax relief for conversion from oil with a boost for more renewable energy such as geothermal or biomass heating.

A group of experts and stakeholders are to present a detailed plan to the Swedish parliament in a few months' time.

Sweden took the decision to phase out nuclear power in 1980, and today renewable sources account for 26 percent of Sweden’s total power supplies.

A new energy era

The European Commission is also preparing new strategies for future EU energy policies. A green paper will be presented on 8 March and discussed among EU heads of state and government at their spring summit.

The EU is the largest importer and second largest consumer of energy in the world.

The 25 member states currently import about 50 percent of their oil and gas needs. But this could rise to 70 percent by 2030 with most supplies originating in "geopolitically uncertain" zones, the commission predicts.

Speaking on Thursday (9 February) at Washington's Georgetown University, commission president Jose Barroso urged for more energy cooperation with the US saying "the world has entered a new energy era."

"We can no longer take secure and affordable supplies for granted. These are issues the EU can ill-afford to ignore," he added and called for the setting up of a "strategic energy dialogue between the EU and the US."

"Just as it is ridiculous to have 25 separate energy policies in the European Union so it would fly in the face of common sense for the transatlantic partnership to pull in different directions in this critical area," Mr Barroso said.

US president George W. Bush recently signaled a change of energy policy.

In his annual state of the union speech (31 January), he unveiled an "Advanced Energy Initiative," including a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research.

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology," the president said.

The long-term plan is to replace more than 75 percent of US oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

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