Exploring sufficiency in energy policy: insights from Sweden


Energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies have been insufficient in achieving rapid and profound reductions of energy-related greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Consequently, energy sufficiency has gained attention as a complementary strategy over the past two decades. Yet, most research on energy sufficiency has been theoretical and its implementation in policy limited. This study draws on the growing sufficiency literature to examine the presence of sufficiency as a strategy for reducing energy-related GHG emissions in Sweden, a country often regarded as a “climate-progressive” country. By conducting a keyword and content analysis of energy policies and parliamentary debates during four governmental terms of office (2006–2022), this research explores the extent to which sufficiency is integrated into Swedish energy policy, as well as potential barriers to its adoption. The analyses revealed a scarcity of sufficiency elements. Although some policies could potentially result in energy savings, they are infrequent and overshadowed by the prevailing emphasis on efficiency and renewable energy. Furthermore, Sweden lacks a target for sufficiency or absolute energy reductions. The main impediments to sufficiency implementation include the disregard of scientific evidence in the policy-making process and the perceived contradiction between sufficiency and industrial competitiveness. This study thus concludes that sufficiency at best remains at the periphery of Swedish energy policy. Given the reinforced ambitions within the European Union, this raises questions regarding the validity of Sweden’s reputation as a climate-progressive country.


Link to centre authors: Hahn, Thomas
Publication info: Oskar Lindgren, Thomas Hahn, Mikael Karlsson, Mikael Malmaeus. 2023. Exploring sufficiency in energy policy: insights from Sweden. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy. https://doi.org/10.1080/15487733.2023.2212501


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