Sweden’s lucrative forestry industry faces EU climate concerns
Sweden has come under fire from critics who have called out the country’s unsustainable forestry.
Despite being a strong supporter of the EU’s green policies, Sweden has been criticized for having a climate-damaging approach to logging.
Forests cover 70 percent of the country, but Swedish MPs say that’s no reason for the country to offset the high emissions of other countries.
The country’s policy makers have told the European Commission that they should not interfere in the management of Sweden’s forests.
Is Sweden a green country?
Sweden was historic One of the most pro-environmental countries in Europe.
As well as pushing for more ambitious climate change policies across the continent, it has pledged to be climate neutral by 2045, five years earlier than the EU-wide target.
SwedenEurope’s forest area – one of Europe’s largest carbon sinks – is a key factor enabling it to be a climate-friendly country.
Is Sweden exploiting its forests?
With forests covering 70 percent of the country, Sweden has a thriving forestry industry, ranking among the world’s top 10 wood product exporters.
Now, this has been brought into the spotlight as discussions on the European Green Deal seek to balance the economic benefits of forestry with environmental safeguards.
Sweden – and other heavily forested countries such as Austria and Finland – said the European Commission should not be involved in their forest policy.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for our forestry sector to be regulated by people with little or no understanding of it,” MP Jessica Polyard told Politico.
Can forestry be environmentally friendly?
Sweden has just assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months and is expected to address environmental concerns around forest management board.
But leaders in Sweden’s forest industry are pushing for the presidency to be an opportunity for the country to show Brussels that its sector is not harmful to climate action.
Emma Berglund, forest Director of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, said she “hopes[s] The Swedish presidency will use the opportunity to emphasize the role of our business and industry in dealing with climate change.”
Sweden has legislation to ensure a balance between production and environmental goals.
Areas of felled forest must be restored either by planned planting or by leaving trees that will naturally produce new seedlings.
Polpayard said that the “main responsibility” during the Swedish presidency is “to find a balance in the council between the need for an ambitious climate agenda while addressing legitimate concerns regarding the energy crisis and economic uncertainty.”
The European Union’s 2030 forestry strategy urges countries to avoid logging – the main production method in Sweden – because of its damage to ecosystems.
Felling is a method whereby all the trees in an area are cut down. This means that old trees are also cut down and soil is destroyed, which limits the biodiversity of the area.
But Sweden balked, arguing that the European Commission did not have the expertise to dictate it Forestry strategy.
Will Sweden’s right-wing government lower its climate ambitions?
Green activists have also expressed concern that Sweden’s new conservative government coalition will scrap the country’s climate goals.
“It’s really tragic that Sweden is a country that has a history of being at the forefront when it comes to climate, the environment, and now, during these six important months, it has a right-wing government that will definitely not prioritize climate,” Green MP Par Holmgren told Politico.
Greta ThunbergAlong with other Swedish climate activists, they recently sued their country for not taking action on climate change.