How The Power Of Many mobilised against the Swedish fossil industry
We have been burning fossil reserves knowingly of that it risks sealing the faith for humanity for decades now. Hope for the climate movement is, therefore, best manifested when fossil reserves stay in the ground.
Therefore Monday June 17 marked a day of victory for Swedes. Through the cascade effects of decisions taken by a country like Sweden, flattering itself as a climate role-model, is not to be underestimated.
In this way, the decision to take the case to the Land and Environment Court of Appeal, also has affects on the global climate crisis. It gives hope to the people of Sweden and elsewhere. It restores faith in that climate justice will and must prevail.
By acting together the Swedish climate movement experienced it’s finest hour on what’s really ‘zero hour’ for the climate.
The background story
Preem, a Swedish petroleum company emits some yearly 1,7 million metric tonnes of CO2 making it one of the ‘heaviest’ Swedish emitters. Nevertheless, Preem wants to expand its operations in Lyselkil near Gothenburg with a new refinery that would emit another yearly 1,7 tonnes of CO2.
Therefore people engaged in climate action community were somewhat surprised to learn that the planned expansion got a go-ahead to build by the Swedish court Vänersborgs tingsrätt, mark- och miljödomstolen.
This decision has since attracted a public debate and spurred around one hundred appeals by private persons and organisations. Monday, June 17 was, therefore, a day of celebration for the climate concerned Swedes. The higher court, Mark -och miljööverdomstolen decision to, in the first quarter of 2020 adhere to the list of complaints and appeals. That means that Preem’s plans have been stopped for the time being. Read the Swedish press here.
The story of People Power
The We Don’ Have Time platform is one of many used to spur public debate and foster resistance to the plans for the Preem Raff. Complaints vary on to it being unwise for climate justice and public health destructive decisions taken by Swedish authorities (the previous court decision) on behalf of the fossil industry (Preem). Therefore, please do read the campaigner Sara Ivarsson and agree to her call for action if you agree.
Just like in any petroleum corporation, by minding their own business the side-effects is a worsened climate crisis, the ‘collateral damage’, the bi-product if you like. The effects have included both less hope among people and a fighting spirit for what makes sense in terms of climate action.
It’s fair to say that Preem is in terms of sustainability and from a climate perspective most likely is not the worst performing company in its industry. Maybe it's even true what Preem recently claimed namely that the new refinery they had hoped for would be technically so advanced that it would emit less CO2 compared to a benchmark competitors operations.
But by that rationale, that if they are not allowed to plan for the industrial facility, the same amount of crude oil would be bought up by others emitting more in the same process, no action for the climate really matters. So perhaps the question boils down to this:
Does less bad mean really good?
Of course not. We should immediately be 100 per cent better. To do that we need to NOT lock into infrastructure that in the decades to follow would emit more and more CO2, sulfur-oxide etc into the atmosphere.
Instead of having extraction and emitting fossil fuel in Sweden and elsewhere as their business model they ought to switch to 100 per cent renewables and bioenergy if it can make it in a sustainable manner. That should be aligned in their owner directives. They can choose to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.
Preem has not posted any comment in English to today’s decision but we have in their Swedish official statement said they will read the courts ruling carefully and come back with further statements.
No role for Sweden
For a country like Sweden that aims to become one of the first fossil-free nations in the world, words need to be followed up by actions. For this reason and for the notion of Sweden as a role-model for climate leadership, we can’t afford to lock-in to climate destructive infrastructure. Governance needs to be a role model for climate action, instead of not acting according to its overarching principles, even laws.
The Swedish Parliament gave birth to ‘The Climate Law’ (more about ‘Klimatlagen’ in Swedish here) and for a country that has set out on a mission of zero-emission, it can prove to be publicity suicide to allow certain major players within fossil heavy industries to double its emissions.
We are all systems-wise dependant on and interlaced with the action of the state and it serves as a bad example for it’s own population and for the rest of the world as audience. That’s why it’s so promising that the Swedish people said ‘enough is enough’ via We Don’t Have Time and other platforms.
Facts about We Don’t Have Time
We Don’t Have Time is the world’s largest social network for climate action. Together we are the solution to the climate crisis. But we are running out of time. Join us: www.wedonthavetime.org