Air pollution has been one of Europe’s and Sweden’s main political concerns since the late 1970s. Ambient air pollution increases the risk of heart and lung diseases and can reduce life expectancy. The pollutants that are most harmful to health are inhalable particulate matter, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide and certain hydrocarbons.

On average, the air quality in Sweden is good, however during the cold winter periods, higher pollution levels do occur. NOx and PM levels rise due to the combustion during the winter and resuspension due to the use of studded tires in the springtime. Air pollution in Sweden is mainly driven by traffic, energy production and industry, especially in urban areas.

In Sweden, the air quality work is in line with the European National Air Quality Standards. Two directives adopted by the EU include rules on how the Member States should monitor, assess and manage ambient quality air. This is a legally binding system for every member state. Sweden has, however, more ambitious targets when it comes to minimising air pollution. According to the Swedish National Environmental Quality Objectives “Clean Air”, the air should be clean enough not to represent a risk to human health or animals, plants or cultural assets. Sweden is carrying out this work mainly through the municipalities. 

Every municipality in Sweden has to assess the air quality by measurements, modeling or objective estimation to make sure that the environmental quality standards (EQS) are met. If a municipality is exceeding an EQS, an air quality plan must be established. The EQS is legally binding for a municipality, county administrative boards and governmental agencies. But they do not fully protect human health, which is why Sweden has adopted the vision of so-called “Swedish National Environmental Quality Objectives”. The vision covers different areas – from unpolluted air and lakes free from eutrophication and acidification to functioning forest and farmland ecosystems. For each objective, there are several ‘specifications’, clarifying the state of the environment to be attained. The target of “Clean Air” aims to ensure that concentrations of air pollutants do not exceed low-risk levels for cancer or target values for protection against diseases or impacts on plants, animals, materials, and cultural objects. 

Many policy instruments helped to improve air quality in Sweden:

  • 1991: Sulphur taxation. The sulfur tax is applied to emissions where these are measured, or the sulfur content of oil used.
  • 1992: Sweden introduced a charge on emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from large stationary combustion plants. A strong incentive for emission reduction was attained by setting a high charge level and combining it with mandatory continuous monitoring of emissions. High monitoring costs made it economically feasible only to include large combustion plants. To avoid serious distortions in competitiveness, the charge was made refundable to the collective of regulated plants based on plant output as a fraction of total useful energy produced by regulated plants. NOx charge has turned out to be an effective instrument for reducing NOx emissions per unit of energy produced from stationary combustion plants in Sweden. Emission intensities have been cut by half, which can be considered a substantial reduction for a pollutant like NOx that is usually technically difficult to reduce.
  • 1996: Environmental zones for heavy traffic from 1996 and private vehicles from 2020
  • 2009: Bann for studded tires for certain areas to diminish the high level of particles in the air.
  • 2018: Bonus–malus system for new vehicles
    https://www.government.se/press-releases/2017/05/bonusmalus-system-for-new-vehicles/
  • District heating since the 1970s and district cooling since 2000s
  • Congestion taxes: In Sweden, there is a system of congestion taxes in Stockholm and Gothenburg. The tax applies to vehicles registered in Sweden and outside Sweden. The payment system is completely automatic. When you drive past a tolling station, this is registered, and a payment slip is sent to the owner of the vehicle.
    https://www.transportstyrelsen.se/en/road/Congestion-taxes-in-Stockholm-and-Goteborg/

Related Companies

3nine

3nine is a Swedish company that develops solutions for the purification of processed air.

A analys AB

A analysis does asbestos analysis for the identification of asbestos in various materials and dust. Materials where one can find the asbestos used is: insulation (eg pipe insulation), fire insulation, floor mats, carpet glue, tile adhesive, grout, window sills, ventilation systems and much more.

AB Ph. Nederman & Co

AB Ph Nederman & Co is a global supplier of working environment solutions.

Absolent AB

Absolent AB is a supplier of air cleaning equipment for collection of oil mist and oil smoke particles in industrial operations.


Related Best Practices

Övik Energi – Cogeneration & District Cooling

Hörneborgsverket, a biofuel based cogeneration plant, is the engine of Övik Energi’s energy production. Hörneborgsverket produce roughly three equal amounts of district heating, steam, and electricity. The steam is distributed to the neighbouring process industries – Domsjö Fabriker, AkzoNobel and SEKAB. Due to the industry’s need for steam, which is in demand throughout the entire year, the cogeneration plant is used to a greater extent, in comparison with power plants that only supply district heating, of which the demand fluctuates. A total of 99% of the fuels used at Höreborgsverket are renewable fuels.

Domsjö a world class biorefinery

Domsjö Fabriker is part of the Aditya Birla Group, which is the world’s largest producer of viscose fibers. We develop future textile materials from northern spruce to catwalks worldwide.

By working together with our customers, we want to make a difference. We are already involved in creating a sustainable bioeconomy that utilizes forest as the unique recourse that it is.

Algae pilot – reducing CO2 emissions with the help of algae

This Algae pilot is the first of its kind in Sweden. The algae convert unwanted substances to utilities. The goal is that algae cultivation will reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide and purify waste water to minimize over-fertilization of our waters and at the same time produce an energy-rich algae mass that is raw material for biodiesel (algae with high fatty acid content), animal feed (protein-rich algae) etc.

Climate Programme for Gothenburg

Gothenburg is determined to be one of the world’s most progressive cities in tackling climate change.


Related Visit Programs

Circular economy

Circular economy is all about a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. Unlike in todays linear economy, in a circular economy we see everything as a resource for something else – waste doesn’t exist. How do business models need to change to suit a circular economy? What does this new way of thinking mean for the business community? How can profitable business models be combined with social and environmental responsibility? How can we design products right from the beginning, and do things even better, instead of just less bad?

Energy

Perhaps the world’s greatest challenge is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly fossil carbon dioxide. Several exciting and new innovative ways to replace fossil energy are under development in the area, such as the Algae pilot and Bioendev.

Sustainable urban development

Many cities around the world today have problems with poor air quality, and often it is the combination of heat and car exhaust that is the cause. The development of fossil-free transportation in cities of the future is critical. Umeå, has extremely innovative electric buses adapted to cold climates. Umeå’s goal is to have fossil-free city traffic by 2020.

New buildings use significantly less energy than existing buildings, which in turn can reduce their energy use with smart renovation methods. Umeå region has evolved as a hub for sustainable construction and management, and the interest in our work is great. Umeå’s objective is to become a world leader in sustainable construction by 2020.

Waste

Through a long-term perspective, Sweden has become a world leader in waste management in a sustainable way.


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