Svante Axelsson Svante Axelsson, Nationell samordnare, Fossilfritt Sverige

Svante Axelsson: Going fossil free will be highly enjoyable!

Fossil Free Sweden is working on behalf of the Swedish Government to speed up the country’s climate transition. The goal is to build a strong industry, and create more jobs and export opportunities by becoming fossil free. Svante Axelsson, national coordinator for Fossil Free Sweden, is hopeful: “Everything has happened faster than we expected,” he says.

Fossil Free Sweden is an initiative launched by the Swedish Government in 2015 before the UN’s major climate summit in Paris. It brings together businesses, local and regional authorities, and organizations committed to making Sweden the first fossil-free welfare nation in the world.

Fossil Free Sweden aims to be a catalyst and make it easier for different operators to move faster. The work is run by government coordinator Svante Axelsson, who is in charge of the Roadmaps for fossil-free transition. A total of 22 roadmaps for 22 industries have been delivered to the government, and the most intriguing question now is what will happen next? Svante Axelsson explains:

“We’re continuing to work on delivering strategies to implement the roadmaps. For example, we have developed a Battery Strategy, a Hydrogen Strategy, a Financial Strategy and a Biostrategy. All important elements in making it possible to implement the roadmaps. In addition, we’re working with all of Sweden’s municipalities to optimize procurement. Another key aspect of our work is storytelling–sharing what we are doing with the rest of the world.

Many people may be aware of the first roadmap now being rolled out, the roadmap for the steel industry, which has actually become a reality as early as 2021, an impressive five years earlier than Fossil Free Sweden expected. Electric trucks are also arriving faster than expected, and overall the speed of the work has exceeded expectations.

“Everything is going faster than we thought at the start. Needless to say, this is stressing out our politicians because it forces them to speed up their decision-making. More charging posts need to be installed, more electrical cables need to be laid, and we now think it’s likely that wind power will surpass nuclear power as soon as 2024,” notes Svante Axelsson.

And the transition to fossil-free also has many positive side effects:

“Air pollution and particles in the air will disappear, the transition will lead to less noise in our cities and, best of all, to more jobs, as going fossil free will make many companies more viable.”

Or as Svante himself puts it: Going fossil free will be highly enjoyable!

Fossil Free Sweden aims to be the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation, which in turn means that other countries will see our success and want to copy us. And after a rather sluggish start, the rest of the world is starting to sit up and take notice. “The New Yorker” recently published an article on fossil-free steel, which has prompted many embassies around the world to get in touch to request further details.

“The most exciting thing right now is that a number of steel power plants around the world are actually copying us. It’s fantastic. This is a 1,000-year-old tradition that’s now being transformed,” reports Svante.

The theme of Nordic Sustainable EXPO in May next year will be sustainable enterprise; it will be a meeting place for businesses and organizations eager to transition and act for the climate. So what about small businesses that want to adapt and keep up with developments in order to strengthen their competitiveness, how can they link the roadmaps to their business? What’s your advice to them?

“Get in touch with the people you supply. When will they be fossil free? What’s their timeline and objective? Small and medium-sized enterprises need to transform their operations to keep up with developments. But you can also be proactive right now. A good way of doing this is to make an inventory in order to see where your greatest climate impact is. Is it transportation, the amount of plastic or purchases? Naturally, this depends on the type of company involved. But my advice is to start where it’s easiest: take the low-hanging fruits first and proceed step by step. If, say, transportation has the greatest impact, a first step could be to switch to biodiesel or start planning to convert your vehicle fleet to electric vehicles,” says Svante.

Finally, why does Svante think a meeting place like Nordic Sustainable EXPO is needed?

“We need to come together to see and hear what others are doing to be able to move forward. Meeting face-to-face is necessary so we can discuss, and get the inspiration and new knowledge we need.”