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facing the future Sustainability the Swedish way

By Eva Krutmeijer


Contents: New thinking 1 Stockhom calling 7 When caring pays 13 Consumer awareness 17 Trees in transition 23 Transforming transport 29 Future living 35


Bondens marknad

Solar cells convert solar energy into electricity

Bondens marknad Bondens marknad

Car pools reduce private motor travel

Safe footpaths and bikeways

Household refuse is sucked down into automatic underground waste collection systems

Organic food is served

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

‘Farmer’s Market’ enables residents to buy local produce

Ecological fashions for the environmentally aware*


Green roofs bind rainwater so that it evaporates

Heat exchangers in water treatment Sustainable urbanism Located on a disused industrial site, Hammarby SjÜstad has become one of Stockholm’s largest urban development projects and boasts an extremely high level of environmental sustainability.


Bondens marknad

Solar cells convert solar energy into electricity

Bondens marknad Bondens marknad

Car pools reduce private motor travel

Safe footpaths and bikeways

Household refuse is sucked down into automatic underground waste collection systems

Organic food is served

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

‘Farmer’s Market’ enables residents to buy local produce

Ecological fashions for the environmentally aware*


Bondens marknad

Solar cells convert solar energy into electricity

Bondens marknad Bondens marknad

Car pools reduce private motor travel

Safe footpaths and bikeways

Household refuse is sucked down into automatic underground waste collection systems

Organic food is served

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

‘Farmer’s Market’ enables residents to buy local produce

Ecological fashions for the environmentally aware*


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way ne w t h i n k i n g

new thinking Ambitious goals and sustainable diplomacy

i sometimes forget how lucky i am to live in sweden. I have difficulty getting out of bed in winter when everything’s pitch black although the clock insists it’s morning, I moan about all the taxes and charges I have to pay, and complain loudly when the trains fail to arrive at the platform on time. When things get really bad, I can count on my Italian hairdresser to put things into perspective. Before five minutes have elapsed, he’s reminded me about the wonderful summer that lies ahead, how fortunate it is that we belong to the European Union so that he can work in Sweden, and as for the trains – well, surely it’s better than sitting in a traffic jam! I close my eyes and lean my head back to have my hair washed. Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice on the radio. “I’m convinced we can achieve the targets in the EU’s climate and energy package. But we must provide the right incentives so that our societies and our businesses make the right choices. We must charge a high price for polluting our environment and reward those who choose the carbon-free path.” The voice is that of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt addressing the European Parliament. I can’t help wondering all of a sudden if he, too, sometimes forgets how privileged we are in Sweden. We’re almost a model country in the environment field, although we have a lot more to do. Of all the energy we use

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in Sweden, a third comes from renewable sources, a third from nuclear power and the remaining third from fossil fuels. But while we are quite good at using renewable energy sources – mainly water – we also use more energy per capita than most other countries. In other words, there are savings to be made. However, transforming the entire Swedish energy system is an enormous task, not only for policymakers and business leaders but for each and every one of us. It is not going to be easy. I hear the prime minister say that the Swedish economy has grown by 44 per cent since 1990 while at the same time carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by 9 per cent. Good. That means we can afford to make the necessary changes. The next step for us prosperous Swedes is to actually do so.

Towards common goals One way of moving from words to action, as we all know, is to set clearly defined targets and then do everything we can to achieve them. Sweden’s Riksdag (parliament) has decided that we are to hand over to the next generation a society in which the most important environmental problems have been solved. No beating about the bush there! Efforts to achieve this target have been under way for a dozen years or so and have now become a natural part of Sweden’s environment work at all levels. Sixteen national environmental quality objectives have been established (see page 5), based on the Riksdag’s decision, and practical efforts are currently under way both nationally and regionally to give the concept of sustainable development real substance. What’s new in this approach is that it establishes targets for what we wish to achieve in terms of environmental quality, rather than just describing the perceived threats and problems that we need to avert. We are not the only ones working with environmental quality objectives, but it is hard to find other countries where such goals are used so explicitly to push environment work in the right direction and ensure that it is properly evaluated. What makes the Swedish model so special is that we have chosen to integrate responsibility for the environment into all public-sector activities. For this, we had to make sure the move had broad political backing. We also had to intensify collaboration between the various government ministries and agencies at both national and regional level. A number of promising developments can now be perceived on the environmental quality front, in such areas as clean air, threatened species and acidification. However, much remains to be done.


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Being patient and impatient My thoughts drift on as my blow-dry begins. A Swede who played a big part in negotiating international environment agreements and establishing a basis for Sweden’s own environment policies is Bo Kjellén. I met him a few weeks ago and he made a strong impression on me. A friendly, white-haired man, he radiates calm and assurance. Just the kind of qualities you need at environment talks, I remember thinking. And being a diplomat, he immediately noted that there are two sides to the coin: “We must be patient and bear in mind that change takes time. But we mustn’t be too patient – you have to keep the pressure on when negotiating!” Bo Kjellén was Sweden’s chief negotiator at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and has since worked closely with successive Swedish environment ministers as a link between the research community and the global policy arena. We discussed the problem of scientists’ inherent uncertainty – their need to question everything – versus politicians’ desire for incontrovertible facts. How do you fashion policies out of hypotheses and models? And how do you gain people’s confidence when the issues are so complex? “It’s definitely the scientists who have moved things forward,” says Bo Kjellén. “They were the first to realise where we were heading – firstly with our dependency on oil and then with greenhouse gases. But it wasn’t until the research community realised that the financial aspect had to be brought into the equation that things began to really happen – the report from the UN Climate Panel, the IPCC, in 2006, and also the Stern Report and Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. When a former World Bank president and a former vice president of the United States speak their minds, everyone sits up and takes notice.” So what can Sweden do? Bo Kjellén emphasises the importance of personal commitment and society’s willingness to focus on sustainable development. “If negotiations are to yield results, delegates must have instructions that are based on a sound grasp of the issues and must also have the backing of public opinion at home. Active thinking and participation and the role of the voluntary organisations (NGOs) are both extremely important. These are crucial issues for democracy.” Bo Kjellén is also anxious to stress the importance of genuine dialogue. “Issues like these require in-depth discussion across traditional boundaries in the research community, but also between research and business, research and politics. This is something we are good at in Sweden.”

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Imagine if half were enough! The realisation that the world is facing a life-and-death issue of unprecedented dimensions sometimes depresses me. It’s great that we’re switching to green cars and ecological milk here in our little country, but what impact will that actually have on the planet as a whole when large and growing economies continue firing their power stations with coal? Before I leave, the hairdresser persuades me to buy a far too expensive bottle of shampoo on the grounds that “you only need use half the usual amount – it’s an amazing product”. He puts it very well: when something is “amazing”, what if you only need half of it? Imagine if all of us in the rich world were to content ourselves with half! Half as much shampoo and detergent – think what that would mean for eutrophication and the marine environment. Half as much water when we take a shower – think how that would bring down our energy consumption. Half as much waste from each household, half as many trips abroad, half as many plastic toys… In these pages, you will meet some of the many people who are contributing to sustainable development and helping Sweden attain its environmental quality objectives. Targets are one thing, but it’s people of flesh and blood who are actually doing the work and meeting the challenges. Women and men who have thought again and are now thinking anew.


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way ne w t h i n k i n g

The Swedish environmental quality objectives The overall goal of Sweden’s environmental policy is to pass on to the next generation a society in which the major environmental problems facing the country have been solved. The following are Sweden’s environmental quality objectives. The arrows show how work is progressing in each area at the present time (2008) and do not indicate whether or not the objectives will be achieved. Reduced climate impact Clean air Natural acidification only A non-toxic environment A protective ozone layer A safe radiation environment Zero eutrophication Flourishing lakes and streams Good-quality groundwater A balanced marine environment, flourishing coastal areas and archipelagos Thriving wetlands Sustainable forests A varied agricultural landscape A magnificent mountain landscape A good built environment A rich diversity of plant and animal life

Sweden’s energy consumption by sector 2006 Industry, 39% Transport, 25% Housing, services, 36%

Hydroelectric power Fossil fuels Biofuels

1990:

72

Industry

Transport

An evaluation study published in the spring of 2008 concluded that more than half of the 16 objectives would be either very difficult or impossible to achieve by the year 2020. At the individual level, consumption patterns need to change, while at the system level Sweden needs to press for action in international forums. The life-cycle principle is emphasised – returning to nature what we take from it – but the study also calls for an across-the-board improvement in energy efficiency as a matter of priority. It further states that in the fields of nature conservation, cultural heritage and human health, greater consideration for the environment and better protection and management will be needed.

The EU’s energy and climate goals for Sweden In January 2008, the European Commission directed Sweden to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 17 per cent by 2020 at the latest (compared with the 2005 level). The proportion of renewable energy (biofuels and energy from sun, wind and water) is to be increased to 49 per cent (2005 level: 39.8 per cent).

Housing, services

Nuclear power

Sweden’s energy consumption by energy source 2006 Fossil fuels, 38% Nuclear power, 31% Biofuels, 19% Hydroelectric power, 10% Imported electricity, 1% Other sources (wind and heat pumps), 1%

2005:

67

2020:

56

Million tons of CO2 equivalents

Read more www.miljomal.nu The Swedish environmental quality objectives www.naturvardsverket.se Swedish Environmental Protection Agency www.stem.se Swedish Energy Agency

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Stockholm calling New research, business opportunities and the Nobel prize

once a year, sweden is a centre of attention as the world’s research community and media turn their gaze on our small country on the northern fringe of Europe. The importance of the Nobel prizes for Sweden’s image as a knowledge society cannot be overestimated. This became clear to me when I was responsible for information management at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for a number of years. My work included making the famous telephone calls to the laureates. Before the Academy’s Permanent Secretary gave the happy news to the person concerned, it was my job to key in the number, check that we had the right person on the line, utter the legendary words “Call from Stockholm” and then pass the receiver to my boss. The procedure was always the same, and it was always exciting to be reminded of how a call from Stockholm could change someone’s life. A century ago, the Permanent Secretary was Svante Arrhenius. He himself had received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903 and was a Swedish pioneer

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in the field of physical chemistry. It was Arrhenius who discovered the greenhouse effect. Through his calculations in the late 19th century, he foresaw the global warming we are experiencing today. Arrhenius estimated that the temperature would rise by 5–6 degrees Celsius if the atmosphere doubled its carbon dioxide content. Present-day researchers predict a slightly lower rate, but every time they adjust their figures the rate seems to go up rather than down. Svante Arrhenius was undoubtedly ahead of his time.

From research to business opportunities A few decades later, another Swedish scientist was ahead of his time. Bert Bolin was a meteorologist at Stockholm University, and as the first chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) he welcomed the decision to award the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the panel, and to Al Gore, shortly before his death at the age of 82. A deeply committed man, Bert Bolin has been instrumental in making people aware both of global change as such and of the fact that sustainability is closely dependent on social, economic and political factors. Bert Bolin was one of the founders of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Johan Rockström, current head both of this body and of the newly established Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), emphasises the importance of broadening the environment debate to embrace the whole spectrum of global socioeconomic issues facing us. “Resilience in this context means the ability of a system to absorb various kinds of disruption and stress and to continue developing after an abrupt change. In the case of an ecosystem, such as a forest, this may involve coping with a storm, for instance, or a fire, or pollution. And in the case of a human society, it may be about coping with political unrest or a natural disaster.” Apparently, resilience in both ecosystems and human society is becoming increasingly important for dealing with the pressures of climate change and other types of environmental degradation. But how can it be achieved? Johan Rockström points to the new economic opportunities opening up. “I’ve been working with sustainable development since the Brundtland Commission in the 1980s, and I’ve seen how the world became more aware after the Rio conference of 1992, but it’s only now that business leaders are showing a genuine interest in what’s going on. At last they’re beginning to realise that there are business opportunities here and that the environment issue is creating new market potential around the world. Awareness of our dependence on functioning ecosystems is probably at the same level today as


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way s t o c k h o l m c a ll i n g

awareness of the climate issue was ten years ago. There are substantial opportunities for doing business in this area, and there’s a great advantage in being first.” Swedish companies, Johan Rockström notes, are doing well in the fields of development and innovation. When ecosystems are discussed in business circles nowadays, it is often in terms of negative impact, e.g. of emissions and pollutants. Lately, however, companies have begun turning their attention to the ecosystems they themselves depend on at the other end. They are focusing both on natural resources such as water, timber or genetic material of some kind, and on the regulatory functions that an ecosystem normally has, such as pollination or water purification. The Swedish multinational Alfa Laval has understood the importance of the new rules regulating the spread of undesirable aquatic organisms via cargo shipping. The transfer of species from one ecosystem to another has become a growing problem both for marine life as such and for the fishing industry. Separation specialists Alfa Laval have now developed a purification system for ships’ ballast water that eliminates undesirable organisms without using additives or chemicals. And they are first in the market with it.

The importance of communicating Johan Rockström stresses the importance of not just conducting research but also communicating issues and findings to other scientific fields and to a broader audience. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has been of considerable help in this respect. The forum it has helped develop to meet this need, known as the Stockholm Seminars, is now an established concept in the research sphere. In practice, the seminars are informal scientific summits for the discussion of sustainable development. Louise Hård af Segerstad works as a research communicator and has been involved in the project since it was launched in 1999. “When we started out, this was a fairly new field and there was a considerable need for discussion across the usual disciplinary boundaries. Scientists tend to present their work to close colleagues in the same field. We invite a broader circle to attend our seminars, so as to promote transboundary dialogue, both within and outside academia.” So what makes the Stockholm Seminars so special? Louise Hård af Segerstad emphasises the interdisciplinary aspect and the open nature of the dialogue. “When we arrange meetings in Sweden, I think they’re a bit more informal and open than most researchers and policymakers are used to. This

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really helps people communicate, and here I think we’ve fulfilled a need.” Nor does she hesitate to stress the importance of being associated with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “Being here is a tremendous advantage to us. It means a lot when we want to attract really big names.” It also accords well with the role the Academy wants to play in the community – as an arena for high-level scientific meetings. So nowadays, a “call from Stockholm” can mean more than a Nobel prize. It may mean an opportunity to present your research findings so that they can be put to use in society. I think Svante Arrhenius would have been happy to see what’s going on in Sweden these days.

Read more www.kva.se Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences www.nobelprize.org Nobel Foundation www.sei.se Stockholm Environment Institute www.stockholmresilience.org Stockholm Resilience Centre


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way s t o c k h o l m c a ll i n g

Discoverer of the greenhouse effect Svante Arrhenius was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his work on the electrolytic theory of dissociation”, but more relevant for us are his calculations from 1896 suggesting that the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes global warming. Svante Arrhenius was a highly celebrated scientist, lecturer and writer in the field of popular science – but when it came to women scientists his outlook was less broad. It was he, in his capacity as Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who advised Marie Curie not to travel to Stockholm to receive her second Nobel prize in 1911, due to the scandalous articles published in France about her love life.

Stockholm Seminars “I think we’re a bit more informal and open in Sweden”, says research communicator Louise Hård af Segerstad, when discussing the success of Stockholm Seminars. Over the years a number of leading scientists and other experts from around the world have given talks in the series, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, father of resilience theory C.S. Holling and leading political scientist Elinor Ostrom. The seminars are held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Here, Louise Hård af Segerstad poses in front of Alfred Nobel himself.

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When caring pays

Corporate responsibility and the advantage of being Swedish

“you’re so… so swedish!” It was an English friend of mine speaking and I remember the situation well, although it was several years ago. There I was, standing astride my bicycle outside her front door in that village outside London, with my picnic basket packed and my little 12-month-old child strapped into her seat, my chin raised as I buttoned my safety helmet – so well organised, so energetic and so environmentally aware!

Sweden’s image I find the Swedish Institute studies of Sweden’s image abroad fascinating reading. Everywhere, it seems, we are viewed as open, honest, well educated and favourably disposed towards technology. There is nothing specific about bicycle safety helmets in there, but the studies suggest that our society works smoothly, that there is little corruption and that we are ranked as the most innovative country in the EU. In another study, the European Social Survey – which is concerned with people’s attitudes around Europe – we’re told that Swedes are happy, that we’re among the least xenophobic of nations and that we enjoy greater equality of the sexes than most other member states. So it would appear that Sweden is both a stable and a progressive country. Simon Zadek, head of the non-profit organisation AccountAbility and founder of the Responsible Competitiveness Index, puts it like this: “Sweden

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is a world leader in terms of creating a climate that favours both innovation and accountability, and is therefore the brightest example around of a country that has managed to establish the basis of a successful competitive strategy for the future.” Self-confidence is not our strongest suit, however, which means we often find it difficult to beat our own drum. The above comment by the head of AccountAbility ought to make me tremendously proud. Instead, I feel a bit embarrassed. Can it really be true? Are we really that good? Perhaps we have to accept it, claim the leader’s jersey and dare show the world what we’re capable of. Simon Zadek takes matters a step further by saying that we can only spearhead this advance if our business partners abroad can benefit from it in the same way. Sweden must get better at exporting standards globally so that everyone gains. Our ethical approach and technological expertise are going to stand us in good stead. Swedish values are highly rated nowadays – in fact, it strikes me that if we could only do something about our reticent self-image, the future would be there for the taking.

Corporate Social Responsibility The issue of taking responsibility – ethically, socially and environmentally – for the impact a given business operation has on human society is often dealt with under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR. What the term actually means is not always apparent, but the UN and the EU have defined CSR as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis”. That sounds fine whichever way you look at it. And the smart thing about it is that it pays off. At the Swedish engineering multinational SKF, social and environmental responsibility are a natural part of the business climate. In 2007, SKF won the prestigious Globe Forum Award for their work with CSR – an area they had been engaged in long before the terms “sustainable development” and “environmental accountability” saw the light of day. Constantly endeavouring to move forward step by step is of course important, but there are also values involved here that cannot easily be described in words. It has to do with a sense of family in the company, a way of behaving towards one another and towards customers. To understand how CSR is a profitable course for such a large concern,


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you have to look at their core values and try to understand their corporate culture. Bengt Olof Hansson is responsible for corporate sustainability at SKF, and has been with the company for 44 years. As soon as he tells me this, I know I’m talking to the right person. “There are really just two questions we need to ask ourselves as a corporate world leader. One is how much money we earn and the other is how we earn it. Profit and business ethics must go hand in hand. Or as we like to put it: ‘A decent profit in a decent way’.” Bengt Olof Hansson agrees that there is something special about what the company calls the SKF spirit. “We’ve always focused strongly on our staff. Now we’re emphasising even more clearly that work satisfaction, profitability and sustainability are all closely linked. In fact, this almost goes without saying and is well in line with our quality culture.” I ask him what happens in connection with individual transactions – do customers make demands on SKF as regards to environment-related issues such as choice of material and transportation? Bengt Olof Hansson himself is surprised that customers don’t make tougher demands. “I’d prefer to see client companies imposing more stringent requirements on us as suppliers. I think this is going to be a real watershed in the years to come. Companies failing to apply sustainable principles are going to fall by the wayside.” For this to work, of course, rules and laws will be needed that help make the adoption of a sustainable approach profitable for all concerned. But we will also need a higher level of public awareness that brings results when end consumers make their choices. The kind of awareness that prompts them for instance to choose a car or bicycle with ballbearings produced in an environmentally considerate way, even if these are a little more expensive.

Attracting talent Corporate values are becoming increasingly important to young job-seekers. A survey published in February 2008 showed that 33 per cent of Sweden’s students felt ethics and moral sense were the most important qualities in a potential employer, and work in pursuit of long-term sustainable development is a vital ingredient in this respect. Can SKF profit from this in its search for young talent? Bengt Olof Hansson stresses that CSR issues have long been an integral part of the SKF operation – if this also attracts labour, that’s fine, but it’s really only a bonus. “We’ve noticed that something’s been happening over the past eight or ten years. Although SKF is a highly respected brand, many prospective engineers and others used to see us as a fairly traditional, technologically oriented

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and male-dominated place – a bit, well, blokeish and outdated, if you like. Today, that’s not the case at all, and I think this is generally appreciated. The average age is lower, there are many more women here – in executive positions, too – and there’s also greater ethnic diversity. We’re a thoroughly modern company.”

Earning respect Before leaving, I can’t help asking Beng Olof Hansson about his lengthy term of service with SKF and what has driven him all these years. “I began as a 17-year-old and I’ve worked on the personnel side almost throughout my career. Now with retirement round the corner, I’m tremendously proud to be leaving behind me an image of SKF as a responsible concern in every respect. Pride must come from within – if we conduct ourselves in such a way that our employees develop a sense of pride and loyalty, then we’ve deserved it. That feels really great.” The environmental challenges we all face are huge and highly complicated. If it feels right for us to do right, there is reason for optimism. But despite Sweden’s excellent record in terms of environmental care, new technology and sustainable development, we mustn’t forget that we are still releasing more greenhouse gases per capita than most other countries. Our high standard of living can be held against us, which means we would command less respect in the world, however good and honest we may be in this land of a million bicycle helmets and child safety seats. We must produce results. And we must go on sharing what we’ve learned with others.

CSR Sweden Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has many definitions but generally implies that the company concerned acts in an ecologically sustainable and socially beneficial manner. CSR Sweden is a business network that encourages companies to engage in CSR activities in order to strengthen ties with the world at large while at the same time ensuring growth and long-term profitability. CSR Sweden is the national partner organisation of CSR Europe and is thus in contact with 25 similar organisations in 22 European countries. Read more www.sweden.se Search for fact sheet on Corporate Social Responsibility


What’s growing near you these days? Locally grown and organic/ecological produce doesn’t necessarily mean just carrots and cabbage. As demand grows, the range of vegetables grows in the shops. Whether or not organically grown produce is more environment- friendly than conventional crops seems to be a matter of opinion, as indeed is the question of whether it’s more healthy and nutritious. Perhaps the most important thing about the organic-food trend is that it makes us more aware as consumers. We make active choices. When we start showing an interest in where the carrot came from before it arrived on our plate, we may also begin contemplating how all life is linked together in ecosystems. As early as the mid -18th century, the Swedish botanist Linnaeus wrote: “Thereby it happens that when animals die, they are transformed into mulch, and mulch into plants, and these plants are eaten by animals, whereby they become parts of animals... ”


What’s growing near you these days? Locally grown and organic/ecological produce doesn’t necessarily mean just carrots and cabbage. As demand grows, the range of vegetables grows in the shops. Whether or not organically grown produce is more environment- friendly than conventional crops seems to be a matter of opinion, as indeed is the question of whether it’s more healthy and nutritious. Perhaps the most important thing about the organic-food trend is that it makes us more aware as consumers. We make active choices. When we start showing an interest in where the carrot came from before it arrived on our plate, we may also begin contemplating how all life is linked together in ecosystems. As early as the mid -18th century, the Swedish botanist Linnaeus wrote: “Thereby it happens that when animals die, they are transformed into mulch, and mulch into plants, and these plants are eaten by animals, whereby they become parts of animals... ”


What have you got against eco-fashion? For many of us, the term organic footwear brings to mind those square- toed ‘earth shoes’ or sturdy boots that were so popular a couple of decades ago – about as far from the fashion counter as you could get. So the fact that the Pjux brand (Swedish slang for ‘shoes’) is now making a name for itself in the fashion market with its totally eco- friendly products is quite a development. The heels are made from Swedish wood while the leather is vegetable-tanned and chrome - free. Pjux shoes are designed by Swede Agneta Rautio and her British partner, Richard Edwards.


Who are you? The clothes we wear tells people who we are. But in recent years, over - consumption has led to the development of a throwaway mentality that is eating away at the earth’s resources. A growing number of us are now aware of this, and there is also a growing awareness that fabrics, leather and clothes are being produced under terrible working conditions by poor people. How can we show that we care? Mattias Lind is a young Swede who sat down in the basement of his family home and sewed his first pair of jeans. Today, the Julian Red brand is internationally known as a full - range clothing concept based on fair, ecological production and design. Mattias Lind is just one of many young modern designers intent on moving in new, environment-friendly directions. And the brand name? Julian Red is taken from a novel by Brett Easton Ellis about another misunderstood young man with a passionate interest in the higher values of life – art, music and literature‌


Have you revised your food habits? Food production accounts for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and a fifth of all energy consumption in Sweden. There’s plenty we can do in this sphere. For the same amount of energy it takes to produce a kilo of pork, we can grow 20 kilos of potatoes. But to what extent are we prepared to change our food habits? Consumption of beef and veal is on the decline in Sweden. From a high level – Sweden tops the list in the EU, along with France and Denmark – demand among shoppers is now falling. The main cause, however, is probably the rising price of meat rather than a growing awareness of the environmental aspects.


Have you revised your food habits? Food production accounts for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and a fifth of all energy consumption in Sweden. There’s plenty we can do in this sphere. For the same amount of energy it takes to produce a kilo of pork, we can grow 20 kilos of potatoes. But to what extent are we prepared to change our food habits? Consumption of beef and veal is on the decline in Sweden. From a high level – Sweden tops the list in the EU, along with France and Denmark – demand among shoppers is now falling. The main cause, however, is probably the rising price of meat rather than a growing awareness of the environmental aspects.


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way c o ns u m e r awa r eness

consumer awareness How we dress and what we eat

sweden is top of the green shopping table. At least in Europe. In a recent survey on behalf of the European Commission, 40 per cent of Swedes said they had bought an eco-labelled article of some kind over the past month. This is twice as many as the European average of 17 per cent. The Swedes are quick to catch on to trends, whether it’s food, clothing or technical devices. Today, the trend is green, and that’s good, surely. Or is it? After talking to a couple of researchers who know more about this than most people, I can see that this is a bit more complicated than I’d imagined.

I shop, therefore I am Cecilia Solér is a teacher and researcher at Gothenburg University’s School of Business, Economics and Law, specialising in consumer behaviour and sustainable marketing management. These are rapidly growing subject areas with a promising future. According to Cecilia Solér, it is not simply a matter of replacing ordinary goods with eco-labelled ones. Rather, we need to buy less and re-use more

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– even, perhaps, to accept a lower rate of economic growth. Our consumer behaviour as a whole needs to change. If this is to happen, we have to understand why we shop. “The time is long past when we bought a new coat because we’d worn out the old one. Shopping has become a leisure-time activity. At the same time, however, it’s through what we buy that we show who we are – consumption has an identity-building function.” Studies by Cecilia Solér and others show – not surprisingly – that money rules. “As long as we have money in our pockets, we consume. There’s also a direct link here to environmental degradation and carbon emissions. Those who have less money to spend don’t have as great an impact on the environment as those who have plenty of money and so consume more. We must show a little more restraint, reflect on what we’re doing and be prepared to pay more for things that put a strain on the environment.” Consumption has risen most where technological advance has been rapid or where fashion is an important factor. Swedes are spending more and more on furniture and interior design, household goods, mobile phones and entertainment – growth between 1995 and 2005 was over 30 per cent.

A new type of fashion consciousness The latest car model, the “right” mobile phone, the most stylish espresso machine… fashion and design appear to be key factors in that they “charge” such articles with precisely the qualities that make us want to buy. Mathilda Tham is Visiting Professor of Fashion at the Beckman College of Design in Stockholm and is also a researcher in ecological design at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has noted that both her students and colleagues and the business community are now taking a tremendous interest in fashions that are environmentally more sustainable. “Up until now, fashion has been treated rather patronisingly in Sweden. It’s been associated with female handiwork, a certain shallowness, and has therefore enjoyed little status. This is, I believe, one of the reasons we were so late in taking the environmental impact of fashion seriously. But fashion is so much more – and there are lots of fantastic things happening at the moment, not least in Sweden, where consumer awareness is growing fast.”

Tell the story behind the product! Now that people are realising consumption is about symbolic values, it could be that fashion and design are the right areas in which to tackle overconsumption and the problems associated with it. But how will we manage to


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change our consumer behaviour if it’s so deeply rooted that it’s an expression of personal identity? In Mathilda Tham’s view, many people are now keen to be identified with a more sustainable lifestyle. “Today, when we go to buy something in a shop, we don’t just look at the product’s function and quality, we also check to see how the product was made. We may then choose a more expensive type of coffee because the package shows that the beans were cultivated in a fair and acceptable manner. It’s the story behind the product that we identify with.” Designers will have a new and more prominent role in the future. The job is going to change considerably, says Mathilda Tham. “Studies show that in the design phase we determine the product’s environmental profile to 90 per cent. It’s about the choice of material and the production method, but also about the transport, the packaging and, not least, the advertising and marketing. Telling the consumer what’s behind the product.” Cecilia Solér, too, sees a greater emphasis on the ethical dimensions. “When my students find out that the top they bought at lunchtime for next to nothing was manufactured under terrible working conditions in another part of the world where textile workers are up to their ankles in poisonous substances… when they hear about that kind of thing, they become emotionally involved and that’s when things start to happen.” Like Mathilda Tham, Cecilia Solér has faith in the future. She draws strength from the young people she meets as a teacher. “I’m exhilarated by their reaction when I tell them about this. And they themselves are really happy that there’s an intellectually stimulating alternative to throwaway consumerism.”

We are what we eat One thing that is intimately connected with lifestyle is the food we eat. So it’s nice to know that interest in organic food and drink is on the increase. In Europe as a whole, the ecological market is growing by 5–7 per cent a year, and in Sweden even faster – in 2007, two of the country’s largest food chains reported increases of 18 and 30 per cent respectively. Sweden is now in eighth place in the world in terms of the proportion of ecological farmland, which is currently 7 per cent. Also, Sweden has long been a frontrunner in the eco-labelling of food products. The KRAV label stands for a good environment, good animal welfare, good health and social responsibility. This means, for instance, that no chemical pesticides, chemical fertiliser or gene-modified organisms may be

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used. The regulatory system has been developed by the producers themselves and since 1985 has been run as a cooperative society. The KRAV label occupies a unique position in the Swedish market – virtually all consumers are familiar with it and are also very favourably disposed towards it.

Starting with the children To get an idea of how matters are proceeding in everyday life, I visit an entrepreneur who has decided to start with the children. Those who will be taking over from us, those who represent the future – what are we actually giving them to eat? It’s a beautiful spring day and many of the children are out playing in the school yard as I make my way to the school kitchen, where I have an appointment with Carola Magnusson. She is the kitchen manager and she has shown that cooking organic meals on an institutional scale is perfectly feasible. In her kitchen, almost all the produce is organically grown. Yet she still manages to keep within the narrow budgetary limits imposed on school kitchens. In Sweden, all children in compulsory school are served a school lunch. This tax-financed meal naturally varies in both quality and taste from school to school, but it is usually cooked at a central facility and transported to the school canteen in the morning, which means it is not very attractive either to the eye or to the taste buds when it finally arrives on the table. It was when Carola Magnusson saw what her own children were being served in school that she got angry. The fact that the food mustn’t be too expensive, she declared, doesn’t mean that it has to be low on nutrition, tasteless and monotonous. “What scared me was that nothing had happened during the thirty years that had elapsed since I went to school myself. The same dry fish fingers, the same powdered mashed potato and that ever-present coleslaw! Think how our food culture in general has improved during this period – all the international influences and the tasty, fresh produce, not to mention the growing interest in organic food! But at school, time has stood still.”

From policy to plate The Swedish Riksdag has decided that by the year 2010, a quarter of all food served in schools and hospitals is to be organic. Not strange, then, that it was Carola Magnusson who was chosen to cook for the EU’s ministers of agriculture when they visited Sweden recently. She was also given the opportunity to describe what she was doing, and the ministers were keenly interested. “All the signs are that we’re just at the beginning of the organic food revolution. There


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Carola Magnusson Who says school meals can’t be appetising, nutritious and colourful? For Carola Magnusson in her school kitchen, nothing is impossible. And the children love it!

are plenty of business opportunities here, but we must make sure that the politicians keep abreast of what’s going on.” Before leaving the canteen, I pass the colourful salad buffet, and Carola Magnusson lifts a cloth and offers me a piece of freshly baked bread. A group of girls storm in and grab a plate each. One of them licks her lips as she looks around. I wonder what will be on her plate in thirty years’ time… Read more www.krav.se The KRAV association www.sjv.se Swedish Board of Agriculture

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trees in transition

Tougher demands and the challenge of sustainable forestry

half of sweden’s forests are owned by individuals. I’m one of them. Thanks to my grandfather, who was a dedicated forester in the northern village of Bredträsk, a small area of forest has been handed down in our family. But it’s not just the trees that have been passed down through the years. The stories have, too. As a child, I heard the most fantastic tales about the struggle to survive during bitterly cold winters, about secret bear’s dens and deadly dangerous elk hunts, about elves dancing through the light summer nights – but it was the forest that stirred my grandfather to the heart. I remember when he took my little hand in his and pointed up at a giant pine. “This tree stood here when I was a small boy – and one day you’ll be able to come here and show it to your own children.”

Don’t disturb, don’t destroy! Forest covers more than half of Sweden’s land surface. Yet it’s not enough – we need more. Trees are already in short supply and will be even more valuable as a natural resource in the future. Our demand for forest products is forever growing, due in part to the need to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels – as a result of which forest is increasingly being used for biofuel production – but also due both to the fact that growing forest binds the carbon breathed in by trees via photosynthesis and to the fact that wood will in time have to replace plastic and other materials made from oil products. These requirements are changing our forests. Right in front of our eyes. Of Sweden’s total goods exports, over 12 per cent are forest products – pulp,

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paper and timber. But to Swedes, the forest is not simply an economic asset. Walking through forests and fields is actually more popular than any of the leisure-time activities our local authorities invest in. We’ve nothing against swimming pools, indoor skating rinks and playgrounds, but it’s the quiet, trusty forest that we value above all else. Forest walks, country runs, hunting, berry and mushroom picking… often, our interest in nature began with the forest and our environmental awareness is rooted in it. Thanks to Sweden’s celebrated right of common access, the forests are accessible to us all, whoever owns the land. We can roam the countryside freely, but this privilege is accompanied by an obligation to treat plants and animals with care and to show due consideration to landowners. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency sums up the right of common access in the slogan “Don’t disturb, don’t destroy”. For us private citizens, there are customs dating back to the Middle Ages designed to protect the countryside and its precious assets. But what about national policy? Can the phrase “don’t disturb, don’t destroy” be applied to current developments in Swedish forestry? Is transformation without destruction possible?

World leaders in forest research Not far from my patch of forest lies one of the foremost forest research institutes in the world, the Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC). Here, a research group led by Professor Ove Nilsson has managed to identify the gene that determines how plants bloom, and the centre is currently regarded as the world’s leading institution in the plant biotechnology research field. Indeed, the research environment here is strikingly productive – the head of Umeå University, Professor Göran Sandberg, is himself active in this field. It was he who in April 2008 announced the discovery of the gene that regulates plant growth. In the Umeå researchers’ greenhouse, aspen seedlings bloom after just a few weeks, whereas out in the forest this usually takes 10–15 years. As a result, the cultivation process can be speeded up considerably. Plant breeding in agriculture has progressed much further than forest plant breeding, due principally to the slower life cycle of trees. But now that the time from seed to seed can be shortened, the possibilities are clearly enormous. Ove Nilsson doesn’t mince his words: “This is going to revolutionise forestry. What we’re seeing now is just the beginning.” Professor Nilsson notes that the breakthrough did not occur simply by chance. “We’re building up a very powerful research environment here in


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Umeå and our staff come from all parts of the world. No less than 34 nationalities are represented, which means we have a strong international network. We’re in the process of establishing an innovation system that exploits the potential in forest plant biotechnology in a sustainable way. Our aim is to cover the whole chain from basic research to industrial application.”

Genetic processing and cloning How is this to be done in practice? The first step, of course, is to speed up the rate of production so as to get higher economic returns. But above all it will involve developing forest raw materials with new properties. Cloning – producing plants that are genetically identical – is something we’re going to have to learn to live with in the forestry sector. Ove Nilsson expects forestry to diversify in the same way as agriculture has done, and he is proud that Sweden is at the absolute forefront of international research in this field. He describes a future scenario in which we cultivate fast-growing energy forest in one zone, specially developed plant fibres in another, and timber in a third. Cloned forests may sound dramatic, but he reminds us that we have in fact been cloning plants for thousands of years. As soon as we propagate from a simple cutting, nipping off a leaf and planting it in the soil, we’re engaging in a cloning process. However, says Ove Nilsson, there are risks involved that we should bear in mind. “One risk is that cloned forests may be afflicted by unforeseen diseases or insect damage where the planted clone is most sensitive. Should that happen, large swathes of forest could be destroyed. The longer the period between planting and harvest, the more difficult it is to assess the risks. Where spruce and pine are concerned, therefore, we’re likely to see a clone mix where the increased risk of damage to the stand is weighed against increased productivity.”

Sustainable forestry Forests of the future will not be the same as today’s forests – no doubt about it. I can’t help wondering what my grandfather would have thought of all this. Special zones with energy forest, customised trees for different needs, cloned forests… As it happens, my grandfather was a development-minded forest owner who always took a keen interest in new technologies and methods, so I think he would have been fascinated by all these advances and the opportunities they afford. On the other hand…

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He’d probably be a bit worried about the ecosystems – isn’t there a danger we may lose variety in our forests so that they become vulnerable to both pests and storms? And what about all those things that rustle and prick and squeak among the trees? The food chains that together with us humans make up the fragile web we now call ecosystems – what will happen to them? In an era of rapid change, we have to ensure that forestry will remain sustainable in the long term. Carina Håkansson is Managing Director of Stora Enso Skog, the company that has the best CSR strategies, according to the Globe Forum Business Network in its survey from February 2008. She is one of many enthusiasts who are convinced that economic and ecological needs can be reconciled. But this is not always easy. “In Sweden, we have twin goals to strive for in forestry – the production goal and the environment goal. Over the past twenty years, we’ve focused strongly on nature conservation – we’ve developed ways of strengthening biodiversity in our forests, and forestry has been transformed. Right now, the emphasis is on making production more efficient, due principally to the fact that demand for forest raw materials is growing and prices are soaring. But it’s still important to strike a balance between production and nature conservation.” So how are we to go about preserving biological diversity? The basic idea, says Carina Håkansson, is to “imitate” the natural disturbance dynamics in our ecosystems – forest fires. “Before people started managing forests, an average of about one per cent of forest land caught fire every year. We’re now in the process of finding out where the forests burned, why certain areas didn’t burn, what it looked like after the fires and how this has affected the species living in the Swedish forest landscape today. The nature conservation methods we’re using set out to determine what the forests looked like before we started exploiting and protecting them.”

Environmental awareness as a success factor Carina Håkansson has always been interested in the forest. She trained as a forester just as the industry was beginning to introduce an environmental perspective into its operations – what she calls “the great mental turnaround”, which says a lot about what the process involved. This was in the mid-1980s in the aftermath of a fierce environmental debate in Sweden, prompted by the spraying of the carcinogenic defoliant Hormoslyr (Agent Orange) and felling practices that left open wounds in the landscape in the form of giant, clear-cut areas. Such brutal procedures cut deep into the Swedish soul, and the industry was forced to re-think its approach. “In the industry, we began


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A national treasure Many poets and artists, like for instance Sweden’s beloved illustrator of fairy tales, John Bauer, have been inspired by the silent, secretive forest. This “green gold” has a natural place in Swedish hearts. So it’s exciting to note that wood and cellulose seem likely to play an increasingly important role in Sweden in the future – and that thinking along new lines is perfectly possible even in an area as old and established as forestry.

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transforming forestry to consider the ecosystem as a whole, instead of just timber production. This turned out to be a really exciting task, and in fact it’s only just begun!” When I ask Carina Håkansson to look into the future, she agrees with the scenario outlined by Ove Nilsson. “Forestry will become more diversified and productivity will increase, but on much of our forest land things will be the same as they are today. Also, we’re going to be learning more about ecosystems so that we can utilise the forest in a more eco-friendly manner. This is something our customers are looking for nowadays. As the demand for sustainable raw materials grows, so will earnings.” I’m now beginning to understand what a gold mine my little patch of forest is. Forest raw material is hardly likely to lose value in the future! And if we can only learn to apply the principle of “don’t disturb, don’t destroy” – or at least not too much – I’ll have both towering pines and fast-growing “biofuel trees” to show my children and grandchildren when we visit grandfather’s old stamping ground in the years ahead.

Read more www.skogsstyrelsen.se Swedish Forest Agency www.upsc.se Umeå Plant Science Centre


Are we developing an alcohol habit? Sweden has a strong tradition as a manufacturer of ethanol. Absolut – ely! But only recently have we begun pouring spirits into our fuel tanks. Sales of ethanol hybrids have doubled over the past year in Sweden, which means that one new car in five that took to the road in the first few months of 2008 was ethanol- powered. The latest trend, however, is rebuilding your petrol engine so that it can run on ethanol instead. All you need to do is widen the engine jets by re- drilling so that 40 per cent more fuel can pass through. Simple do- ityourself instructions are available on the Internet. It might be a good idea, though, to start with your lawn mower or snow slinger before tackling the family car!


Are we developing an alcohol habit? Sweden has a strong tradition as a manufacturer of ethanol. Absolut – ely! But only recently have we begun pouring spirits into our fuel tanks. Sales of ethanol hybrids have doubled over the past year in Sweden, which means that one new car in five that took to the road in the first few months of 2008 was ethanol- powered. The latest trend, however, is rebuilding your petrol engine so that it can run on ethanol instead. All you need to do is widen the engine jets by re- drilling so that 40 per cent more fuel can pass through. Simple do- ityourself instructions are available on the Internet. It might be a good idea, though, to start with your lawn mower or snow slinger before tackling the family car!


Where are we going? We’re making heavy demands on our forests, and they’re like to become even heavier. We’re supposed to produce more from our forest land while at the same time avoiding ecological depletion. Such an equation sounds almost impossible. One way of encouraging sustainable forestry is to look for the FSC label. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an international organisation that promotes the environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable use of the world’s forests. The FSC label can now be seen on everything from books to garden furniture, which means we can make green choices in many different areas where paper and wood products are involved. Today, almost half of Sweden’s forests are FSC certified.


Have you remembered to charge the car? In the future, we’ll charge our cars with green electricity. That, at least, is how the Swedish government sees it. In a report published in the spring of 2008, it declares that Sweden is uniquely placed to be a pioneer in electric car production, thanks to our almost carbon- free production of electrical power, our considerable expertise in car manufacturing and power technology, and our strong commitment to environmental improvement. Via the Swedish Energy Agency, the Government has embarked on a joint project with Saab and Volvo, who are developing the actual cars, Vattenfall, who will provide the power infrastructure and charging equipment, and ETC, who will provide the battery technology. The concept car in the picture is called the Volvo ReCharge.


Where do you get your energy from? As long as we humans have lived on earth, we’ve used biofuels. We gathered around campfires that gave us warmth, food and protection from wild animals. The fact that over the past 150 years we’ve industrialised the Western world with the aid of fossil fuels may eventually prove to be a parenthesis in human history…


Where do you get your energy from? As long as we humans have lived on earth, we’ve used biofuels. We gathered around campfires that gave us warmth, food and protection from wild animals. The fact that over the past 150 years we’ve industrialised the Western world with the aid of fossil fuels may eventually prove to be a parenthesis in human history…


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transforming transport Biofuels, new vehicles and black liquor

my environmentally aware little ten-year-old is ashamed that we still drive around in a petrol-engined car. “We’re not living in the 20th century, you know,” is one of the comments I’ve heard from that quarter. She’s right, and we are of course going to switch to a more up-to-date vehicle. But while environmental awareness is steadily growing among us private motorists, emissions from heavy-vehicle road users are increasing apace. Will new, non-fossil fuels be the answer? Sweden’s Commission on Oil Dependence, appointed by the Government in 2006, expects much of these new fuels. It has concluded that Sweden should be able to increase its use of biofuels by 40 per cent by the year 2020. Many, however, find this unrealistic – it will simply not be possible, they say, to produce enough biofuels to meet the needs of the transport sector, either globally or in Sweden. Also, we want to use green raw materials for other purposes, not for vehicle fuel. So we shouldn’t just focus on what we pump into our tanks. There are other important aspects, such as more energy-efficient cars, smarter planning of public transport systems, and the replacement of business travel with Internet communication. A bit of creativity is required here!

I roll Volvo is Latin for “I roll”. The big question for the future is: On what? I pay a visit to Volvo Trucks Sweden. They are currently in the middle of an intensive development period, and I’m lucky enough to get an interview with three of

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the innovators who are developing new solutions for Volvo’s heavy goods vehicles (HGVs): Patrik Klintbom, an expert on alternative fuels, project manager Lennart Cider and research engineer Jonas Edvardsson. I’ve hardly had time to hang up my jacket before Lennart Cider shows me what he and his team are doing – with the aid of some colourful little toy trucks he moves around on the table. “A lot of people talk about the importance of thinking outside the box”, he says enthusiastically. “That’s exactly what we’re doing here!” He demonstrates how different modules can be combined to boost energy efficiency. A logging truck must be able to drive on small forest roads to collect its logs. At the same time, longer vehicles are more cost-efficient than short ones. Hey presto – he unhitches a trailer from another toy truck and attaches it to the first. New fuels, he observes, are only one part of the equation. “We must try to improve efficiency in every way we can – but we must also focus on holistic, integrated solutions, not just engines for new fuels.” Jonas Edvardsson agrees. “We have to look at every little leakage of energy and focus more on efficiency. We’re still losing a lot of heat through exhaust emissions – how can we make better use of that energy? Much can be gained by making engines even more efficient and thereby reducing fuel consumption.”

Part of the problem, part of the solution Volvo’s environmental policy refers to the need for an integrated, holistic view, continual improvement, technical development and resource efficiency. I’m anxious to hear their views about how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions when transportation keeps increasing? Two intersecting lines that clearly represent a tremendous challenge. Patrik Klintbom looks serious, but is optimistic. “At Volvo, we think there’s reason to view the future with confidence. Things we used to believe were impossible are now a reality.” I still have a feeling it must be difficult for someone as knowledgeable and environmentally aware as Patrik Klintbom to work in the HGV industry. Isn’t it a bit like a health-conscious dietary expert developing new cream-cake recipes at a bakery? He allays my fears, however. “Being part of the problem also means being part of the solution. Working with new fuels is very satisfying, and we’re making considerable progress.” He adds: “Environmental care is one of Volvo’s core values. Internally, we’ve undergone an intensive learning process centring on the fuel issue. If a


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decision came, and the ground rules were clear, new commercial solutions for renewable fuels could be ready within two years. Choice of fuel, though, is not an issue for Volvo alone – all concerned must collaborate on this.”

From the impossible to seven possibilities Switching from fossil fuels to biofuels was long a question of whether the chicken or the egg should come first. Truck manufacturers blamed lack of access to both fuels and pumps, while planners for their part argued that you can’t develop infrastructure as long as no engines are available for the new fuels. In this situation, Volvo decided to develop seven concept vehicles adapted for an equal number of fuels or fuel mixtures (biodiesel, synthetic diesel, DME, methanol/ethanol, biogas, biogas+diesel, and hydrogen+biogas). The new trucks were produced in record time. After just six months, they stood there gleaming in the sun. Is it really possible to develop new engines that fast? The three engineers laugh at the question, but there’s no mistaking their pride. Lennart Cider: “Actually, it was totally out of the question, but we did it anyway!” So now that Volvo have shown it’s possible to produce efficient engines for each of these new fuels, the question is which will become the standard in the years ahead. Patrik Klintbom is reluctant to speculate, but when I ask him for an intelligent guess, he plumps for DME (dimethyl ether) and synthetic diesel. “All the fuels have their strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve analysed them very carefully. But I think we’ll have to go with some type of gasification since it’s the most efficient and has the least impact on the environment. As far as we can tell, these fuels have the greatest potential.”

Second generation soon with us

Black liquor

The gasification of biomass represents the second generation of biofuels. In contrast to the first generation – fuels such as ethanol from maize, wheat or sugar beet – gasification technology does not compete with the cultivation of crops that could be used for food. Instead, it uses biomass that would otherwise have been lost – either as tree-stumps left in forests or as residues from chemical processes at papermills. The new gas boilers swallow most of what comes their way. In Sweden, we have some of the leaders in this technological field. They include a group of entrepreneurs who launched a company called Chemrec. Today, it can boast an efficiency rate of no less than 67 per cent from biomass to fuel, which means it is ranked Best In Class.

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In the Chemrec process, gasification occurs at very high temperatures in combination with oxygen. Originally, the aim was to offer pulp mills a more efficient recycling process. Today, things are slightly different. Patrik Löwnertz, head of marketing and sales at Chemrec, explains: “When you manufacture pulp for things like copy paper, you boil wood chips at high pressure and temperature to get rid of the lignin that holds the fibres together. About half of the wood’s original energy content is left in the fibres in the paper, while the rest ends up in the used cooking liquor, which is called black liquor.” What a waste, I reflect. Drawing a parallel with cooking food, this would be like losing half of the nutrition in spaghetti to the water it was boiled in. Patrik Löwnertz says much of the energy in the residue is already being harnessed, but the point is that this can be done even more efficiently. The pulp and paper industry, then, can become the pulp, paper and fuel industry if development continues along these lines. The industry itself has usually reacted favourably, but with a certain amount of caution. Patrik Löwnertz realises that major realignments and investments will be needed. People must have faith in this new technology, and Chemrec’s task is to convince the mills that it is reliable. It must work on a large scale and for a long period. “Fortunately, there are enough powerful actors capable of evaluating the technology and its potential, which means we can continue work on our commercial pilot plant. More companies will then see the advantages of adding value to biomass and strengthening their positions as raw material purchasers.”

Development rolls on How important is this technology likely to become in the future? If all the pulp and paper mills in Sweden were to gradually exchange their soda recovery boilers for this type of gasification technology, it could replace 25 per cent of all petrol and diesel consumption in the country. We would seem to be facing a major transformation of the entire forest and pulp industry in Sweden. Patrik Löwnertz confirms this scenario. “Yes, that’s correct, over a fairly long period of time. What will happen next is that our pilot plant for DME production will come on line at the end of 2009. Volvo plan to use DME from this plant in their new DME engines in trials at four locations around the country.” And perhaps only then, when the trucks begin rolling on Swedish DME – recycled energy from our forests – will other actors take a real interest in what is happening. Patrik Löwnertz is looking forward to that day. “To be able to


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embrace the whole chain from biomass to practical, extremely eco-friendly vehicle application, using advanced, second-generation biofuels – that’ll be incredibly exciting!” The switch to biofuels has begun. My discussions with Volvo and Chemrec have shown me that the combination of tenacious entrepreneurs, innovative industries, long-term investors, brave politicians and environmentally aware citizens can move things in the right direction. Reducing fossil-fuel dependency to a parenthesis in global history may be easier and go faster than we imagined. Hitherto, oil and coal have driven industrialisation in the western world, with all that this has entailed. Today, my daughter is right – fossils belong to the past.

Second-generation vehicle fuels In Sweden, bioenergy currently accounts for 17 per cent of total energy supply. It is largely derived from forest raw materials. Today, bionenergy is used primarily to heat homes and other buildings. The term second-generation biofuels refers to vehicle fuels produced mainly from forest residues. A pilot plant for ethanol production via cellulose fermentation has been established in Örnsköldsvik, and gasification of black liquor is being tested in Piteå. Volvo have developed concept vehicles (picture below) that can be powered by seven different fuels or fuel mixtures (biodiesel, synthetic diesel, DME, methanol/ethanol, biogas, biogas+diesel, and hydrogen+biogas).

Green cars increasingly popular In 2005, 14.8 per cent of new cars sold in Sweden ran on ethanol, diesel or gas, or were electric hybrids. In 2008 (Jan-May) the figure had soared to 60 per cent. The proportion of green cars in Sweden has doubled over the past year. Between May 2007 and May 2008, their share of the total stock of cars rose from 14 to 30 per cent, due in no small measure to the government subsidy made available to all buyers of new green cars, but also due to the fact that many people had begun to question their motoring habits as they became more environmentally aware. Read more www.svebio.se Swedish Bioenergy Association www.bilsweden.se Swedish trade organisation for cars, trucks and buses

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f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way future living

Future living

Passive houses, active people and new windows on the future

long, lo-o-ong, short, short! For many of us Swedes, the passing of the seasons feels like a foxtrot. Autumn and winter seem long and dark, while spring and summer are over far too quickly. In fact, it’s not that way at all. The four seasons are about the same length, and the light summer nights are ample compensation for the darker months. If you’ve experienced the midnight sun on a peaceful June evening, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Heat houses, not the atmosphere The north and south of Sweden have very different winter climates. In the southernmost parts, average temperatures in January hover around zero, while in northernmost Sweden they are -17°C. Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a major task, and the expansion of piped-in district heating is a vital part of the solution. Today, district heating accounts for about half of all heating used in Sweden. It is an efficient and environmentally friendly type of heating based largely on the burning of resources that would otherwise be lost – energy from household refuse and other waste, residues from logging, and surplus heat from manufacturing. The energy is distributed from the heating plants via well-insulated underground pipes. Straightforward and dependable. If the heating source is located in a central facility rather than in each individual building, this makes for greater fuel flexibility. In terms of new technology, climate impact and other environmental factors, district heating plants can adapt and realign – the customer does not have to make these kinds of decisions.

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f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way future living

Waste an increasingly important energy resource In 2007, we beat our recycling record in Sweden. We managed to return no less than 85 per cent of our used bottles and aluminium cans. Newspaper and PET bottles are returned as well, of course, as are tin cans, paper packaging and rigid plastic. We sort our household refuse left, right and centre – a fairly common perception among Swedes is that if there’s one thing you yourself can do to help the environment, it’s sort your own waste. But once we’ve removed the things that can be re-used, we’re left with a bag of “remainders”. Thanks to modern district heating plants, however, this waste – along with food waste from restaurants and other biowaste – can be turned into heat for our homes and other premises. It can also be turned into biogas – and into electricity, too, of course. Waste has become a resource and we’ve moved one step closer to the ecocycle society!

Sustainable urban development Growing numbers of us live in towns and cities. Today, half of the global population are urban dwellers, and the proportion is increasing. The problem with us town folks is that we use more resources than others, which means we generate more waste, and more air and water pollution. There is a great need, therefore, to build sustainable urban centres. Over the past half century, we in Sweden have focused on holistic approaches and on the environment when planning our housing areas. This has led to fruitful and interesting synergies between different technological solutions, political strategies, and – not least – people’s preferences. The Stockholm district of Hammarby Sjöstad is perhaps the best-known example of sustainable urban planning to have appeared in recent years. I have watched it grow, since in commuting to work daily on my bicycle I pass what only a few years ago was an ugly, messy old industrial zone. Now, attractive and elegant new buildings are going up almost by the month – when construction is completed in 2015, there will be room here for 25,000 residents and 35,000 workplaces. The buildings are surrounded by green spaces and play areas, attractive walkways line the shore and a new tramline swishes through the area. There is also a new sports hall and shops and service establishments of every conceivable kind. A modern area for modern people, is what I see on my daily round. The most important features of all, however, are not directly visible. Hammarby Sjöstad has reduced environmental stress by 40 per cent, eutrophication by 50 per cent, ground-level ozone by 45 per cent and water consumption by


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way future living

40 per cent. This has been achieved by focusing on each detail as part of an integrated concept. Here, a completely new underground waste management system has been built, solar energy is turned into hot water and electricity, runoff water is filtered and re-used, biogas is extracted from household refuse, and – last but not least – the buildings themselves are well insulated and have triple-glazed windows.

Active researchers and passive buildings When the Swedish Riksdag’s Committee on Civil Affairs invited researchers and practitioners to a seminar on future housing, it was interested both in new construction and the conversion of existing housing areas. One of Sweden’s leading researchers in this sphere is Maria Wall of the Lund Institute of Technology. A qualified architect, she has been conducting research into energy-efficient buildings. What is her impression after meeting the country’s leading politicians in the housing sector? “They were definitely pining for information. What they can do for us now is to give us the means to pursue research, but they can also tighten the building regulations so that everyone in the industry knows what’s going to happen in the long term. Otherwise, we’ll never achieve the environmental quality objectives.” Sweden is at the cutting edge of research into what are termed passive houses, and Maria Wall is glad that the politicians are now showing so much interest. Passive houses are based on a simple principle: good insulation and a minimum of leakage. Walls are often 40–50 cm thick, windows are energysaving, and there is also an efficient ventilation system with built-in heat recovery. By significantly reducing energy loss, the only heating system you need is a small heat battery in the air intake that keeps the entire home warm during the coldest winter months. For the rest of the year, the heat from the home’s electrical appliances – and of course from its inhabitants – is enough to keep temperatures at a comfortable level. Not a radiator in sight! The breakthrough for passive housing came a few years ago when the technique was used in the construction of a terrace-house complex outside Göteborg. The houses are working exactly as planned – energy consumption is a third of the prescribed standard rate for new buildings. The mistakes of previous decades – when homes were made excessively airtight without improving ventilation – have meant that a lot of myths about passive houses are still doing the rounds. Maria Wall explains: “Many people believe you don’t get enough ‘fresh air’ – that it’s somehow unnatural to make homes airtight. The opposite is true. We can show that the indoor air is better

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in passive houses than in ordinary houses. Since the air is filtered, you eliminate pollen and things like that. Many people with allergies or asthmas have been in touch with us and are delighted.” Housing is a key issue in determining to what extent our society can be made sustainable. But it’s not just about retaining heat – the need for cooling will also increase. As the climate changes, we can expect not only milder winters but hotter summers. Summer heat is already a problem for Swedish hospitals and old-age care institutions. Sales of fans for homes and offices are on the increase. We are going to need smart systems for both cooling and heating in the future. And if we continue to invest in sustainable construction, more of us will soon be able to move to low-energy homes in inspirational environments and enjoy better lives than ever.

Facing the future How we live, what we eat, how we travel and what we choose to wear – this is what sustainable development is about. The extent to which we’re prepared to reassess our fundamental needs and habits. Sweden is well to the fore in terms of both technological solutions and ecological thinking. Add to this the fact that we are quick to follow trends and that we love nature, and the future looks pretty bright. Yet many people I meet seem to have given up hope. They react with despair when the subject of climate change comes up and environmental problems loom large. Others seem to think it’s up to someone else to solve the problem, they themselves haven’t the energy… I met an environmental scientist once who provided me with a good analogy for this situation. He compared the insight you gain when you realise what a perilous state our planet is in with the four phases in crisis theory. The first is shock, when you question the truth and feel frustrated. The second phase is denial, and unfortunately many people get stuck here. The third is in effect a grieving phase, and this is tough, since you risk becoming cynical or bitter. Fortunately, there is a fourth and final state of mind – the creative phase. This is where we start to see solutions, where we find the inspiration to think along new lines, where we absorb new knowledge in a constructive way. I believe there are enough of us in the creative phase in Sweden to pave the way for others to follow. The people you have met in this booklet are just a few of them.


f a c i n g t he f u t u r e . s u s ta i n a b i l i t y t he s w e d i sh way future living

Environmental technology and sustainable construction Housing accounts for almost 20 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions in Sweden. But the situation is improving. In what is termed a passive house, insulation is far better than in ordinary buildings and a mechanical ventilation unit regulates the airflow, which means the heat given off by household appliances and the occupants themselves is enough to keep the house warm. Interest in sustainable construction is growing fast. The town of Alingsås, near Göteborg, was one of the first in Sweden to introduce passive houses, and has also established ties with other countries. In a demonstration project in the town of Dalian in north-eastern China, 400 flats are currently being built using passive housing technology inspired by the Swedish approach. The picture shows a passive housing project under way in Falkenberg in southern Sweden, with 54 flats in two separate buildings. The scheme is part of an EU Concerto project, Energy in Minds. Read more www.passivhuscentrum.se Passive House Centre www.symbiocity.org SymbioCity – Sustainability by Sweden, a project run by the Swedish Trade Council www.hammarbysjostad.stockholm.se Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm

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Eva Krutmeijer (b. 1965) is a professional science communicator and a writer with a wide range of scientific skills. As head of information at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for a number of years, her duties included informing the world about the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. Besides her freelance writing she is currently running a project at the Swedish Research Council aimed at strengthening communication between scientists and politicians.

Mixed Sources Mixed Sources

Product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sourses Product group from well-managed Produktgrupp fråncontrolled välsköttasourses skogar forests and other och annat kontrollerat ursprung. Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar no.kontrollerat SGS-COC-004069 ochCert annat ursprung. www.fsc.org Mixed Sources © 1996 Stewardsship Council CertForest no. SGS-COC-004069 Product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sourses www.fsc.org © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar och annat kontrollerat ursprung. Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 www.fsc.org

© 2008 Eva Krutmeijer and the Swedish Institute © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this publication. Translation by Stephen Croall Graphic design by Mats Hedman

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Product group från fromvälskötta well-managed Produktgrupp skogar forests andkontrollerat other controlled sourses och annat ursprung Produktgrupp från skogar www.fsc.org Cert no.välskötta SGS-COC-004069 och annat kontrollerat ursprung © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council

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www.fsc.org Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 Product well-managed © 1996 group Forestfrom Stewardsship Council forests and other controlled sourses Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar och annat kontrollerat ursprung www.fsc.org Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council

Mixed Sources Mixed Sources Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed Mixed Sources forests and other controlled sourses Illustrations: Benny Karlsson/Naturbild (front cover 1), Johan Warden/Linkimage (front cover 2),group Johan Töpel Product fromvälskötta well-managed Produktgrupp från skogar forests andkontrollerat other controlled sourses och annat ursprung Mixed Sources (inside cover), Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix (p.1), Martin Nauclér/Scanpix (p. 3), Henrik Trygg/ImageBank Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar Product groupCert from well-managed www.fsc.org no. SGS-COC-004069 Sweden (p. 5), DPA/Scanpix (p. 6), George Hammerstein/Matton (p. 9), Scanpix (p. 11,och top), Ulla Montan forests and other controlled sourses annat kontrollerat ursprung © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council ProduktgruppCert frånno. välskötta skogar www.fsc.org SGS-COC-004069 (p. 11, bottom), Lena Granefelt/Johnér (p. 12), SKF (p. 15), Björn Keller/Linkimage (p. 17), Tor Kristensen/Pjux och1996 annat kontrollerat ursprung © Forest Stewardsship Council www.fsc.org Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 www.fsc.org (p. 18), Julian Red (p. 19), Daniel Hertzell/Folio (p.© 1996 20), (p. 23), Gunnar Bergkrantz (p. Per © 1996 Forest25), Stewardsship Council Forest private Stewardsship Council Gårdehall (insert, p. 25), Lars Forsstedt/Folio (p. 26), Bo Jansson/PixGallery (p. 29), John Bauer/Jönköpings museum (p. 31), Volvo (p. 33), Bengt Hedberg/Naturbild (p. 34), Magnus Cramer/Folio (p. 35), Susanne Walström/Johnér (p. 36), Chemrec (p. 39), Volvo (p. 41), Niklas Bernstone/Johnér (p. 42), private (p. 45), PhilipNicholson/Sweco Arkitekter Helsingborg (p. 47), Markus Marcetic/Nationalencyklopedin (p. 48), Dick Clevestam/Naturbild (back cover 1), Elias Larsson/Folio (back cover 2). Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed Mixed Sources forests and otherMixed controlledSources sourses Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed Paper: cover, Arctic Silk+ 250 g; inside, Arctic Silk+ 130 g. The paper is FSCProduct group from well-managed Product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sourses Product group from well-managed Produktgrupp fråncontrolled välsköttasourses skogar forests and other och annat kontrollerat Mixedursprung. Sources group from well-managed ProduktgruppProduct från välskötta skogar no.kontrollerat SGS-COC-004069 forests and other controlled sourses ochCert annat ursprung. www.fsc.org från Council välskötta skogar © 1996 Stewardsship CertForest no. Produktgrupp SGS-COC-004069 och annat kontrollerat ursprung. www.fsc.org © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council Cert no. SGS-COC-004069

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forests and other controlled sourses certified and therefore contributes to environmentally sustainable development. och annat kontrollerat ursprung. Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar frånannat välskötta skogar och kontrollerat ursprung. no.kontrollerat SGS-COC-004069 Printed in Sweden by Åtta.45, Solna, 2008 Produktgrupp ochCert annat ursprung. www.fsc.org Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 © 1996 Stewardsship Council www.fsc.org ISBN: 978-91-520-0971-0 CertForest no. SGS-COC-004069 © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council www.fsc.org © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council

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Product group from well-managed Product group fromvälskötta well-managed Produktgrupp skogar forests and otherfrån controlled sourses forests andkontrollerat other controlled sourses och annat ursprung Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar Produktgrupp från www.fsc.org Cert no.välskötta SGS-COC-004069 och annat kontrollerat ursprung skogar och annat kontrollerat ursprung www.fsc.org CertStewardsship no. SGS-COC-004069 © 1996 Forest Council © 1996 ForestCert Stewardsship Council www.fsc.org no. SGS-COC-004069 © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council

Swedish Institute | Sharing Sweden with the world

The Swedish Institute (SI) is a public agency that promotes interest in Sweden abroad. SI seeks to establish cooperation and lasting relations with other countries through strategic communication and cultural, educational and scientific exchanges. Sweden.se, the country’s official gateway, is a rich source of information that provides a direct insight into Mixed Sources has a steadily growing number contemporary Sweden in many different languages. The website articles and MixedofSources Product group from well-managed Mixed Sources Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests other controlled sourses Product group fromandwell-managed fact sheets on environmental issues and sustainable development in Sweden. forests and otherfrom controlled sources Product group well-managed forests and other controlled Mixed Sources Produktgrupp frånsourses välskötta skogar Mixed Sources Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar forests and other controlled sources och annat kontrollerat ursprung. and Swedish fiction in some Product group from well-managed Sweden Bookshop has a wide range of books about Sweden 50 languages. och annat kontrollerat ursprung. Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar Product group från fromvälskötta well-managed forests and other controlled sourses Produktgrupp skogar www.fsc.org Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 och annat kontrollerat ursprung. Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 forests andkontrollerat other controlled sources The bookshop can be found at Slottsbacken 10 in central Stockholm and at www.swedenbookshop.com. och annat ursprung. www.fsc.org © 1996 Forest Stewardship Council Produktgrupp från välskötta skogar 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council no.© SGS-COC-004069 ochCert annat kontrollerat ursprung. www.fsc.org

Stewardsship Council CertForest no. free SGS-COC-004069 Do you have any views on this SI publication?© 1996 Feel to contact us at info@sweden.se. www.fsc.org © 1996 Forest Stewardsship Council

Produktgrupp Cert frånno. välskötta skogar www.fsc.org SGS-COC-004069 och1996 annatForest kontrollerat ursprung. © Stewardship Council www.fsc.org Cert no. SGS-COC-004069 © 1996 Forest Stewardship Council


Solar panels heat water

Green vehicles* for transport purposes

Ecological fashions for the environmentally aware*

Street rainwater is treated locally and flows into the lake instead of to a treatment plant


Solar panels heat water

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

Green vehicles* for transport purposes

Ecological fashions for the environmentally aware*

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

Street rainwater is treated locally and flows into the lake instead of to a treatment plant


All frontage and roofing materials are free from heavy metals

Low-flushing toilets and tap aerators reduce water consumption by half

Combustible waste is used to produce district heating and electricity in the area’s own system.

Organic waste is turned into biogas

*Ecological clothes by Camilla Norrback *Green car, V70 2.0 Flexifuel, by Volvo


Solar panels heat water

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

Green vehicles* for transport purposes

Ecological fashions for the environmentally aware*

Ecological fashion by Camilla Norrback

Street rainwater is treated locally and flows into the lake instead of to a treatment plant


All frontage and roofing materials are free from heavy metals

Kiruna Arctic Circle

Umeå

Uppsala Stockholm

Göteborg (Gothenburg)

Lund Malmö

Facts about Sweden Area: 450,000 km2 (fifth largest country in Europe) Forest: 54% Mountains: 16% Cultivated land: 8% Lakes and rivers: 10% Average temperatures in January and July: Malmö - 0.2°C , +16.8°C Stockholm -2.8°C, +17.2°C Kiruna -16.0°C, +12.8°C Population: 9.2 million Population density: 22 inhabitants/km2 (90% live in the southern half of the country) GDP per capita 2007: SEK 336,000 Number of cars 2007: 4.26 million Passengers at Swedish airports 2007: 20.4 million (international flights), 6.9 million (domestic flights)



Facing the Future - Sustainability the Swedish Way