The International Energy Agency (IEA) commended Sweden in its latest country report on Tuesday as a global low-carbon economy leader through its well-integrated policy that is in line with its climate objectives.
The report cited Sweden as building a low-carbon economy by using the lowest share of fossil fuels in its primary energy supply among all IEA member countries.
It showed that Sweden has the second-lowest carbon-intensive economy, and highlighted its success in its energy transformation through market-based policies that focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy, notably carbon taxation, which has helped drive decarbonization across several sectors.
The IEA said that in 2016 with its Energy Agreement and the Climate Framework for 2017, Sweden set ambitious targets, including the long-term goal of zero net emissions by 2045. However, the report stressed that additional action is needed to achieve these results, as the country’s total carbon emissions have been flat since 2013.
"Sweden has shown that ambitious energy transition policies can accompany strong economic growth," said Paul Simons, the IEA’s deputy executive director. “With the Energy Agreement now in place, the time has come to implement a clear roadmap towards the long-term target of carbon neutrality."
The report paid special attention to transport-related emissions. It noted that this sector accounts for less than a quarter of Sweden’s final energy consumption, but over half of its energy-related carbon emissions.
Sweden has set a target to reduce transport emissions by 70% between 2010 and 2030.
The Swedish government also introduced several new policies including a bonus/penalty system to support new low‑emission vehicles and measures to increase the use of biofuels.
"However, Sweden isn't yet on a trajectory towards its 2030 target, and the IEA recommends that the government closely monitors developments, and strengthens policy measures as needed," the report said.
Sweden's electricity system is another important element in the country's energy transition, the report highlighted.
The IEA noted that Sweden has largely decarbonized its electricity generation through investments in nuclear power, hydropower, and most recently, other renewables.
"This is an important achievement that needs to be sustained," it said and added that Sweden has not taken a formal position against the construction of new nuclear plants at a time when most existing nuclear power plants are expected to run for the next several decades before being phased out.
"That said, there is little interest to invest in new reactors in the current market. Meanwhile, Sweden has set an ambitious target of achieving 100% renewable electricity generation by 2040. The IEA recommends the government carefully assess how to reach that target and what the implications will be for grid stability and security of supply," it said.
The report also showed that Sweden has a secure electricity supply, is well connected with its Nordic and Baltic neighbors, and has become a large net exporter of electricity.
"The Nordic power market is an excellent example of how countries can benefit from closer collaboration,” said Simons, concluding, “We recommend further market integration to support the continued energy transition in the region."
By Murat Temizer