In accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be stabilised at a level that will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This goal must be achieved in such a way and at such a pace that biological diversity is preserved, food production is assured and other goals of sustainable development are not jeopardised. Sweden, together with other countries, must assume responsibility for achieving this global objective.
To avoid the risk of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, the EU member states have agreed a target to limit the increase in the global mean temperature to no more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
To keep the temperature rise within this limit, the combined atmospheric concentration of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) should not, in the long term, exceed 400 parts per million (ppm), expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. The latter is a measure of the quantity of greenhouse gases that is arrived at by converting the contribution of each individual gas to the amount of carbon dioxide that would have the same impact on climate.
The largest contribution to the greenhouse effect, both in Sweden and around the world, comes from the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas, petrol and diesel), which are mainly used to generate heat and electricity and for transport.
International cooperation needed to achieve objective
International cooperation and action in every country are crucial to meeting this objective. A large proportion of today’s emissions of greenhouse gases will affect the earth’s climate for more than 100 years to come. Whether the environmental quality objective can be achieved will only become clear in the middle of this century. As an average for all the industrialized countries, greenhouse gas emissions should be cut to roughly 2 tonnes per capita by 2050, with further reductions to follow.
The Swedish Parliament has adopted a vision of zero net emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in Sweden by 2050.