Swedish infrastructural initiatives promote future growth in society and industry
Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd is the new Swedish Minister for Infrastructure. With great ambitions and the stake set high, Elmsäter-Svärd aims to strengthen the country’s infrastructure and thus creating growth from a green perspective, incorporating important values such as safety and time-efficiency.
The development and interests of the Swedish infrastructure are guarded under the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications. Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd was appointed as new Minister for Infrastructure after the governmental elections this fall.
In a time when climate change has come to dominate the world's political agenda, and in a time when the world economy is climbing up from its deepest recession since the great depression, change is required. A shift to a more resource-efficient society is necessary for all countries.
The challenges of the present economic down-turn and of climate change could – if met simultaneously – offer enormous business opportunities, and create a strong driving force for a green economy.
“In Sweden, we have showed that it is possible to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1990 we have lowered our CO2 emissions tremendously, and at the same time our GDP has grown. We now have the one of the world's most ambitious policies in terms of energy and climate”, Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd explains.
The targets for 2020 are 50 per cent renewable energy, 20 per cent more efficient energy use and 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, to name some examples.
Sweden’s role in the development of ITS
The transport system has to be constantly developed in order to meet present and future demand. One of the major challenges of transport policy today is to help create a safe, green and convenient transport system.
New technologies are the key to lowering the burden on the environment and improving safety while at the same time contributing to reduced costs for industry and society. As Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd expresses: ”We need to fully exploit the potential of existing transport systems. We also need to speed up the introduction of already existing technical solutions”.
Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS, can be used in order to improve the efficiency of freight transport. In Europe every other train car is empty, and land-based trailer cargo is packed inefficiently, allowing for transports with more than 50 per cent air.
“The use of ITS in freight transport will facilitate an effective process consisting of business processes, freight documents, permits and declarations. A digital way bill covering all transport modes would be a substantial contribution to improved effectiveness”.
ITS is also an important tool for managing traffic and reducing congestion on our roads. Advanced systems for identifying and charging vehicles is an important transport policy instrument.
”In Sweden we have seen that the introduction of congestion charges in Stockholm successfully reduced road traffic during peak hours. The system is also generally accepted by the residents of the region. We are now preparing for the introduction of congestion charges in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, from 2013”.
Combating the climate change
When it comes to combating climate change, the transport sector faces a huge challenge – but it also provides great opportunities. The long-term objective of the Swedish Government is that Sweden should have a vehicle fleet that is independent of fossil fuels by 2030.
A ‘super green car rebate’ for the cars with the lowest emissions will be introduced as a tool to help achieve the goal. Initiatives will also be undertaken to develop green cars, plug-in hybrids and the infrastructure for them. These initiatives will decrease emissions and at the same time facilitate the shift to a green economy.
Developing for the future
Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd lives in Enhörna, a small town classed as countryside but still in close vicinity to the capital. People in Enhörna have the advantage of being able to choose from small roads, the highway or commuting by train.
“I have always been interested in the general aspects of people’s every day life. As new Minister for Infrastructure I believe that it is important to value people’s time. At the same time we must look after the environment and reduce our impact on it. A strong and well-developed system for infrastructure is necessary for our trade and industry to flourish”, Elmsäter-Svärd concludes.