Sweden responds to call for coal stop after cry for help

Sweden responds to call for coal stop after cry for help

The small island nation of Kiribati has in a letter to the government asked Sweden to back the global initiative which would ban all new coal mines. Now we have Sweden’s response: The Social Democrats and The Green Party want to push development banks into adopting policies which prevent them from investing in fossil fuels.



 [Translated from piece published in Swedish News site Svenska Dagbladet 11/12/2015]

By Jenny Stiernstedt

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, wrote a letter to all world leaders, calling for a stop to new coal mines, in the lead up to the climate meeting in Paris. Coal is the single largest contributor to climate change today, and there are many more coal mines planned to be built all over the world.

The government has been very quiet so far. However, now there has been a response to a question asked by Jens Holm, [Left Party] spokesperson for Climate, regarding this matter. Minister for Climate and Environment, Åsa Romson, responded by saying that Sweden and the Nordic Countries with the U.S. has already agreed to stop investing in coal-fired power plants abroad.

More specifically, this is about multilateral banks and funds divesting from fossil energy.

 “Sweden will work to make sure that banks also adopt policies to not invest in neither coal nor oil.”

What is new is that the government will take further steps to make sure that their instructions and policy that applies to development banks are enforced.

"Sweden will work towards making sure that these banks also adopt policies to not invest or support investments in oil or coal. The development banks might be the initiative with largest impact on the world that Sweden can undertake to assist the global transition to renewables" says Åsa Romson.

Responding to why Sweden is unable to support the call for a stop to new coal mines from KiribatiRomson brings up the negotiations in Paris. A large part of the negotiations concerns whether or not rich countries should take responsibility for the emissions they have emitted historically.

"To then sit on our high horses - as it is easily perceived - and say to the rest of the world that we think that you should close down your coal-fired power plants tomorrow – might not be the most pedagogical [sic] way of explaining how we best together tackle climate change. We will build a fair climate deal where the richest countries do more."

Jens Holm is not happy with the answer from the government. He thinks that Sweden should stand with Kiribati:

"This includes assisting developing nations in transitioning from coal to other sources of energy", he says.

Holm, also in Paris like Romson, has just been in South Africa, a country dependent on coal.

"They kept repeating that they wanted our help to get rid of their dependence on coal, and find renewable sources of energy."