Reinfeldt touts ‘green economy’ on Brazil visit

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told Brazilian business leaders Wednesday that there should be a global "green economy" with sustainable growth.

Reinfeldt, who on Tuesday discussed ethanol production, environmental concerns and technological cooperation with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, spoke Wednesday to the Federation of Industries of Sao Paolo (FIESP).

“The challenge of attaining a green economy and sustainable society is huge, but there is no alternative,” Reinfeldt told nearly 300 business people.

Reinfeldt proposed establishing a “price” on pollution and consumption of natural resources — in order to reduce emissions.

“I believe that putting a price on pollution or the use of our natural resources is the most effective way” to create a successful green economy, he said.

The plan would require commitments by major polluters such as China and the United States, he said.

Reinfeldt expressed hope that his and similar ideas would gain support at the “Rio+20” UN Conference on Sustainable Development planned for Brazil next year.

“We need a better common understanding of green economy, and Rio+20 could get us closer to such an understanding,” he said.

Sweden has “cut in half” its consumption of fossil fuels and oil since the 1970s, the prime minister told the financial newspaper Valor in an interview published Wednesday.

“Ethanol is part of that,” he said.

Sweden is one of the largest purchasers of Brazilian ethanol, made from sugar cane, for the Swedish mass transit system. On Tuesday, Rousseff said she spoke with Reinfeldt about a possible joint effort to produce ethanol in Tanzania.

Meanwhile, a Swedish company is in the running for a multi-billion-dollar contract for 36 new fighter jets for the Brazilian military.

Brazil announced in February that it wouldn’t make any short-term decision on the contract, estimated to be worth between $4 billion and $7 billion, because of budget problems.

Saab of Sweden is jockeying with US-based Boeing and France’s Dassault for the contract.

Reinfeldt told Valor that Saab’s Gripen NG is “the best” and boasted of its “excellent quality.”

The visit marked Reinfeldt’s first as head of government to a South American nation. He planned to conclude the trip Thursday in Chile.

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Denmark signals support for zero-emissions zones in cities

A new proposal presented by the government on Wednesday could give local authorities the ability to designate zero-emissions zones in cities.

Denmark signals support for zero-emissions zones in cities
Parking spaces at a charging point in Aalborg. The sign reads "reserved for electric cars". File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The zones would only allow access to vehicles without combustion engines, such as electric cars.

Wednesday’s government proposal states that there is already demand at municipalities for zero-emissions zones in set parts of cities in order to reduce air and noise pollution.

The government said it wants to accommodate that demand while still enabling people to live, move around and shop in the zones.

“The government will therefore look closely at whether affected residents and businesses in the area have realistic alternatives and that there would be time to meet the criteria,” the government writes in the proposal.

“A framework must also be set to ensure access for necessary use of industrial vehicles, including delivery of goods,” it adds.

A long period of transition would be required in municipalities that decide to take up the option of establishing the zones, according to interest groups for the automotive industry.

Goods vehicles could be amongst those to face the largest obstacles in such a situation, as the range on zero emissions goods vehicles on the market is limited, according to the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

“That means it would be difficult to ensure supply to cities where the requirement for zero emissions might be effective,” DI’s CEO Lars Sandahl Sørensen said via written comment.

The association for car importers in Denmark, De Danske Bilimportører, said that the zones would be difficult to implement without a long phasing-in.

“The proposal for zero emissions zones in particular is very far reaching and can hardly be implemented without a long phasing in period, as the range of electric and hydrogen cars with sufficient range should be greater,” the organization’s CEO Mads Rørvig said in a statement.

FDM, an association for motorists in Denmark, went further in its criticism of the plan.

“It’s far too early and disproportionate to have zero-emissions zones that would exclude 98 percent of Danish motorists,” FDM senior consultant Dennis Lange said in a written comment.

“This is a symbolic policy which will have no measurable effect on pollution,” he added.

READ ALSO: Lower Danish taxes backed for home electric car charging