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Sweden set to be first country to account for consumption-based emissions

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To ramp up its effort to combat climate crisis, Sweden has announced its intention to include consumption-based emissions in its reduction target, which means that carbon emissions from products manufactured outside of Sweden and imported into the country will be added to its total emissions. The move will make Sweden the first country in the world to account for overseas emissions.

When setting up emission reduction goal, most governments frame around emissions generated within the borders. The Swedish government considers including overseas emissions reporting to be a difficult but laudable action. Besides, the Global Carbon Project claimed that imports account for up to 60% of Sweden's overall emissions, which reflets the country's attempt to account for them.

The decision to include consumption-based emissions in the country’s carbon footprint is made by a cross-parliamentary environmental committee. It comes as a result of a push by a number of organizations to increase public acceptance of environmental responsibility.

However, the measure has only been recommended so far. Adoption will be more possible if concerns like Sweden's export market, international aviation, and shipping are resolved. In addition, the absence of worldwide standardization for the calculation procedure might be a stumbling factor. Environmentalists have pointed out that unreliable emissions reporting from manufacturing processes is likely to have a negative impact on results and offsetting efforts.

Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather told media that if Sweden adopts this measure, it’s likely to set a benchmark for addressing consumption emissions problem and spur other European countries to follow suit. Other climate experts took the same stance, saying that no country wants to fall behind in the race to net-zero emissions. Performative aim setting and bureaucratic foot-dragging, on the other hand, would have to be avoided.

Sweden has made progress for quite some time on the pathway to curb climate change. In 2020, Swedish food company Felix launched ‘The Climate Store,’ a grocery store which prices food depending on its carbon footprint, in order to explore if consumers would be persuaded to be more environmentally conscious based on household budgets. In the same year, IKEA opened its first-ever secondhand store, signaling the company's commitment to long-term sustainability.

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