Why is the reduction obligation a good way to cope with climate reduction in the transport sector?

The reduction mandate in Sweden is an important issue that is widely discussed before the 2022 election. Svebio, the Swedish Bioenergy Association summarizes information about why the reduction mandate is a central part of Sweden's climate transition.


Foto: iStock

The reduction mandate is the Swedish law that regulates greenhouse gas emissions by mixing biofuels into certain fossil fuels, it enables a transition from fossil fuels to bio-based over time. The law is an important tool that creates conditions for the production of sustainable Swedish fuels, investments in bio-refineries and jobs throughout Sweden. The transport sector accounts for a third of climate emissions in Sweden. This is because we use fuels based on fossil raw materials – crude oil. The large-scale use of fossil raw materials for energy purposes has indeed served society well, but it is a climate systemic failure that must stop as soon as possible to stop the climate crisis.

Fossils must decrease – renewables increase

Here, the responsibility does not lie with individual actors or individuals. There needs to be a joint system change that causes everyone to gradually move in the right direction. This has already happened in the heating sector. In 1991, a carbon dioxide tax was introduced, which gave biofuels and waste better competition on the market compared to fossil energy.

Thanks to this, Sweden has not been affected like other countries when increased gas prices now affect the whole of Europe. Sweden went ahead then, and it served the country well. Sweden can lead again, and that too will serve us. However, EU rules prevent us from reducing the carbon dioxide tax on renewables, without simultaneously doing the same with fossil fuels. Therefore, the reduction obligation is by far the best tool we have.

3 reasons why the reduction mandate is important to maintain

  1. The reduction mandate means a systematic phasing out of fossil energy in the transport sector.

  2. The reduction mandate reduces Sweden’s import dependence on fuel.
    It is true that today the majority of all biofuel used in Sweden is imported, but increased fossil use can only – and it must be emphasized – be achieved through even more imports. As you know, Sweden has no crude oil extraction of its own and is completely in the hands of other countries. More fossil fuels will worsen Sweden’s trade balance, independence and security of supply – more renewables counteract this.

  3. Sweden overproduces grain – can grow energy crops
    A persistent myth is that increased use of biofuels competes with food production. In the HVO (renewable diesel) sold in Sweden (2020) around 85 percent was based on non-edible slaughter waste and non-edible pine oil. In addition, products based on crops are used, all of which follow the EU’s strict sustainability criteria. Globally, grain production per hectare has increased faster than population growth for more than 60 years. As a consequence, more food than what the world demands has been produced since around 1980. It is well known to most that Sweden and the EU had grain surpluses: “butter mountain”, “meat mountain” and overproduction of milk. Since joining the EU in 1995, Swedish farmers have also received area subsidies in most years on the condition that they do not cultivate a portion of the area, so that overproduction can be reduced. If we instead grew crops for fuel, we could replace large amounts of fossil fuels.

    When crises such as the Ukraine war occur, crops that are normally used for energy could fill needs on the food market. In Europe, there are more than 10 million hectares that are planted or are in other “measures” and that could be better used for energy production and contribute to climate work. In Sweden, however, energy crops will not dominate because we have such large forest resources. The harvest residues that are left in the forest each year contain energy equivalent to 140 TWh. This can be compared with the energy requirement for domestic road transport of around 90 TWh. Harvest waste from the forest and industrial by-products such as sawdust and lignin can become suitable raw materials for the petrol and diesel of the future.

The reduction mandate is our most important tool to ensure a fossil phase-out and renewable phase-in. In other words, the reduction obligation is a climatic, economic and social necessity.

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