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WFES 2013: Exporting environmental standards

After the opening of the Swedish Pavilion, Climate Control Middle East engaged Hannes Carl Borg, State Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, Sweden, for an exclusive interview regarding Sweden’s sustainability standards and how the country plans to influence the GCC states and other countries in the world to follow in their footsteps towards sustainability.

| | Feb 16, 2013 | 2:28 pm
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After the opening of the Swedish Pavilion, Climate Control Middle East engaged Hannes Carl Borg, State Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, Sweden, for an exclusive interview regarding Sweden’s sustainability standards and how the country plans to influence the GCC states and other countries in the world to follow in their footsteps towards sustainability.

Could you tell us about Sweden’s sustainability standards and the roadmap ahead?

feb2013-report301Sweden has a very long history of having a very high environmental standard. We introduced environmental legislation as early as the beginning of the century. Today, we are one of the forerunners, not only in the level of legislation, but also, when you look at what’s in focus this week. When it comes to renewables, Sweden is the top country within the European Union.

We have a goal for the year 2020 to reach, that at least half our energy should be renewable. Today we are at 48%. The long-run vision set by the Swedish Government, however, is that by 2050, our energy system should be totally sustainable, with no net emissions. So these are the ambitions, and of course, Sweden has been blessed by nature. We have a lot of natural resources, for hydropower, for example, so that one of the biggest challenges for us at present is to reduce our own dependency within the transport sector.

What would you consider the turning point when Sweden began to ramp up its efforts in terms of sustainability?

I don’t really see that there’s one single turning point; it’s more of an evolution over time. Swedes have always had a close relation to nature. Of course, there are some effects from the oil crisis back in the 1970s. But this is something that has been growing over time, with the adoption of stricter and stricter regulations as awareness has increased. Swedes are very aware of the world around them, and are very early adopters, for example, to new technologies. So, there’s a great interest in these issues in Sweden.

Is Sweden planning to extend these practices to other countries, like the GCC states? How is it thinking of influencing these countries to follow suit?

Hannes Carl Borg, State Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, Sweden, with Mr Max Bjuhr, Sweden’s Ambassador to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain at the Swedish pavilion during WFES

Hannes Carl Borg, State Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, Sweden, with Mr Max Bjuhr, Sweden’s Ambassador to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain at the Swedish pavilion during WFES

Indeed, we have the ambition to stretch out into the world. We see this as we are leading within some areas, especially when you look at sustainable cities, so the system approach combining, for example, technologies for waste reduction and transport. We see that we have an approach and a whole package that could be used as an example and could be of use in other countries.

We see that there is huge potential demand for these technologies, especially in the GCC region. We see here, as in the rest of the world, an increasing demand for these solutions, and you have a growing organisation.

From a Swedish point of view, we also see the benefit of this being a bigger part of the future Swedish economy and making some export profits from it, because today, the Swedish industry, to a large extent, is still traditional – steel, paper, and traditional products – and we see that these sectors can only grow to a certain extent in the future. And we have to make our economy more flexible and diversify even more.


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