EU proposal creates controversy over Swedish hydropower

Hydropower, a large part of Swedish electricity production, risks being classified as unsustainable in the European Commission’s regulations for approved green investments. Opposition and electricity companies are urging the government to wake up – time is running out.

– Waiting and seeing is not enough, says Rickard Nordin, acting economic-political spokesman for the Center Party, also for energy policy.

– No one will remove hydropower but it will be more expensive to invest in it, it will probably be more expensive interest rates. And that in itself makes the green transition more expensive and that it is delayed. It is a huge problem, he says.

His colleague in the Moderates, Elisabeth Svantesson, does not mince words.

– It is a hole in the head not to call Swedish hydropower sustainable, how could the government have let it go so far? she wonders, claiming that the government has been passive and belated in its footwork in Brussels.

Giants are worried

In a recent debate article in Svenska Dagbladet, representatives of the energy giants Fortum, Uniper and state-owned Vattenfall also call on the government to intervene to prevent rules that could threaten energy supply in Sweden.

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What it’s all about is the EU’s so – called taxonomy regulation. The purpose is to list investments that can be described as sustainable. Investors should find it easier to see which types of projects are environmentally sustainable and are attracted to direct their money there, with conditions for good conditions.

One week ago, the European Commission sent out a proposal for classification, requirements and criteria for sustainable investments. Member States, organizations and all other interested parties have until 18 December to comment on the proposal. After that, the Commission will work out a new version.

Bolund dissatisfied

– What we have seen so far about hydropower does not rhyme with Sweden’s attitude, says Minister of Financial Markets Per Bolund (MP), who is responsible for the issue in the government.

He points out, among other things, that renovation and reinvestment in existing hydropower can be without a stamp of sustainability. There are specific requirements for environmental adaptations that Swedish interests consider to be misdirected and misconceived and without an environmental effect.

– Now there is the opportunity to influence the Commission’s proposal and we will do what we can, but I encourage everyone to be active and send their views to the Commission, says Bolund.

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He says he does not understand the criticism at all that the government has been passive.

– It is by no means true, says the Minister of Financial Markets.

He describes it as a great success that the EU has at all developed a system for classifying investments with regard to sustainability, the so-called taxonomy. But the EU is a negotiation system where you can give and take and not in every detail you can get what you want, he points out.

The Riksdag’s Finance Committee will be visited by Bolund shortly to discuss the issue.

– We will be very clear with which line Per Bolund must operate, it is obvious that he has not done his job during this year when this list has been produced, says Elisabeth Svantesson.

Rickard Nordin emphasizes:

– Now a huge negotiation effort is required from the Swedish government.

Facts: Taxonomy and EU environmental goals

The EU has set energy and climate targets by 2030 and aims for a climate-neutral union by 2050.

One means of achieving the goals is the taxonomy, a classification system for sustainable investments.

It will help and guide investors to invest in environmentally and climate-sustainable projects.

The framework came into force this summer. Since then, work has been underway on criteria for and requirements for investments so that they can be listed as green.

These include requirements for hydropower and bioenergy and indirectly how forests may be used.

Source: European Commission


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