The Swedish government has an important decision to make — whether to approve the sale of the vast lignite reserves of state-owned energy company Vattenfall, or ensure they stay in the ground. Forever.The decision will define Sweden’s commitment to tackling climate change.
VATTENFALL'S ACTIONS ARE ALSO SWEDEN'S
Vattenfall is 100% state-owned and the Swedish government can determine the direction of Vattenfall. Since Vattenfall is one of Europe’s largest energy companies, their efforts are significant for our climate and our planet. The most important thing would be to start phasing out the lignite that Vattenfall owns in Eastern Germany which today releases more carbon than all of Sweden. Instead the government are now discussing to sell Vattenfall’s lignite – a choice that would make a disastrous impact on the climate, since any new owner is very likely to continue extracting and burning the lignite. We can and must make sure the lignite instead stays in the ground.
LIGNITE -- ONE OF THE WORST ENERGY SOURCES
Lignite is the very dirtiest fuel you’ll find, and its combustion is far more polluting than both oil and gas. A coal power plant that is powered by lignite releases more than three times as much carbon dioxide as a gas fuelled plant.According to climate scientists 80% of all coal, oil and gas must be left in the ground if we are to stop climate disaster.Scientists who have studied the total fossil fuel reserves globally have concluded that 89% of Europe’s coal must stay in the ground. If the Swedish government sells Vattenfall the new owners will simply keep digging up and burning the coal. The only responsible course of action is to heed the scientific warnings and keep the coal in the ground.
VATTENFALL IS SWEDEN'S MOST IMPORTANT ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION
This decision will define Sweden’s leadership and commitment to tackling climate change.If the government chooses to phase out Vattenfall’s lignite power plants, it would mean a larger improvement for the planet than if all Swedish citizens stop using oil, petrol and other fossil fuels entirely.It would dramatically decrease all of Europe’s climate impact, improve people’s health and leave room for investments in renewable energy. But if Sweden sells the coal, the buyers are very likely to continue with business as usual – resulting in zero climate benefit and further climate destruction.
VATTENFALL: A DIRTY STORY
Over the last few decades, Vattenfall has bought businesses that have been bad both for the climate and its finances. Instead of investing in the fuels of the past, and leaving someone else to clean up the mess they are causing, the real solution for Vattenfall now lies in phasing out their lignite operations. A 2030 coal phase out plan is needed to show how Vattenfall’s lignite operations can make a just transition away from coal, that takes into account both the needs of the planet and its workers.