Countries like Sweden which are part of the UN Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas production are allowed to trade “emission units” if they exceed their emissions targets.
The principle is that countries which have problems reducing emissions can buy emissions rights from other nations which already have an excess of the rights.
Due to a sharp decline in emissions, Sweden now has a large surplus of 22.5 million tonnes. But instead of selling the excess rights, the governing Social Democrat-Green coalition has instead decided to scrap them altogether.
“The temperature increase on the earth is going much faster than scientists predicted. As such, it isn’t responsible to sell emissions rights to other countries,” climate minister Isabella Lövin explained.
This is not the first time that Sweden has decided not to trade its excess emissions rights. To date, allowances to the equivalent of 94.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide have been scrapped. Sweden’s annual emissions account for just over 50 million tonnes, by comparison.
“We could have saved these rights for possible future needs. But we believe that we have a responsibility to keep climate policy on course,” Lövin noted.
The move comes at a testing time for climate change policy on the international stage. New US President Donald Trump has openly doubted climate change in the past, and references to climate policy on the White House website have been archived since he took charge.