Norwegian PM on controversial Swedish oil refinery: “I expect Sweden to meet its climate target”

Erna SolbergPhoto: Jil Yngland / NTB
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A classic conflict on climate vs. jobs threatens to blow up the Swedish government. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) expects Sweden to meet its climate goals.

A planned expansion of the Preem oil refinery in Lysekil may lead to Sweden violating its climate commitments in the Paris Agreement.

“I expect that the Swedish government will do its best to achieve its climate goals. They have committed themselves to that,” Solberg told news bureau NTB.

According to newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the development plans have created an outcry in Sweden and are now threatening to blow up the Swedish government. 

While the Green Party clearly said “no” to the project, the Social Democrats are more in favor of a “yes,” sources told the newspaper. 

According to the plan, the government will make its decision this autumn.

Increased emissions

The expansion is valued at around SEK 15 billion and will be backed by several Saudi investors. 

According to the plans, it will increase the plant’s annual emissions by one million tonnes of CO2. 

That could lead to the total CO2 emissions in Sweden going up instead of down, in violation of the Paris Agreement.

Additionally, emissions of sulfur dioxide will increase from just over 200 tonnes to 732 tonnes, and emissions of a number of other environmental toxins such as zinc and arsenic in the water will continue, according to environmental activists.

At the same time, Sweden’s largest test facility for carbon capture and storage (CCS) started up at the refinery in May.

Earlier this year, the Land and Environmental Court of Appeal approved the plans to expand and rebuild the refinery. 

Jobs vs. climate

“Two existential questions are facing each other here – jobs and the climate. Preem is the municipality’s largest private employer,” a politician from Lysekil explained.

Environmental activists have long fought against the plans, and on social media, posts against the development abound under the slogan “Preem vs. The Paris Agreement.” 

Earlier this month, Greenpeace blocked the refinery entrance and stopped, among other things, a Norwegian-owned oil tanker.

The final decision is now in the hands of the Swedish government.

Taking on responsibility

Solberg did not want to comment on the development plans directly.

“I think that the Swedish authorities are able to make their own assessments on whether they should give permission or not. 

But if they increase emissions there, they must reduce emissions in other areas. That is the question that they must decide on,” Solberg said. 

Last week, 18 EU parliamentarians supported a demand to stop the development plan, according to SVT.

“Make sure that you also take responsibility at home. Only in this way can you continue to be a credible player at European and global level,” the 18 parliamentarians noted in a letter to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (S) and Minister of the Environment Isabella Lövin (MP).

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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