Sweden’s Center Party talks climate change

Radio SwedenEye on the Arctic

The elections to the European parliament are now exactly one month away, with voters in Sweden going to the polls on May 25.

The Center Party, one of the four parties in the center-right government at home in Sweden, has just one member of the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Long one of the more Euroskeptical parties on the center-right of Swedish politics, the Center Party has its roots in the Swedish countryside, with many worrying what impact the European Union would have on rural issues when Sweden joined in the mid-nineties. For a party in favor of national decentralization, moving power further away was not to many members’ tastes.

But that attitude has changed over the years, with the party now pro-EU though still anti-Euro, and trying to push a green profile, both nationally and on a European level.

Kent Johansson is their current member of the European Parliament and their top candidate in this election. He has one clear priority over the next five years: preventing climate change.

“We need a stronger framework about this,” he told Radio Sweden, “ranging from gas (emission) reductions, we need renewable energy, and energy efficiency. I don’t think the European Commission plans go far enough.”

Do fewer things, but do them better

One of the Center Party’s slogans when it comes to the EU is "smalare men vassare," which could be translated as "narrower but sharper." They want the EU to do fewer things, but to do them better, Kent Johansson says:

“For example, if we take the climate. There should be ambitions and a strong position at the European level. But not going into details. What kind of renewable energy we should use, for example. That we can decide ourselves, because that depends on the situation. In Sweden we have wind, we have bioenergy, so the mixture of what kind of renewable energy you use, that can be decided by each member state.”

Johansson calls the Center Party “the green voice” of the non-socialist parties. But if that is the case, why should a voter interested in environmental issues vote for the Center Party and not the Greens, for example?

“In Sweden nowadays they are more connected to the Social Democrat party,” Kent Johansson told Radio Sweden. “But on the European level I can say that we have a lot in common. But I think we have a more strong belief that you can have a local initiative there. We are a green voice, but we think that it is development that you can have development in the whole of the EU and its member states. There are differences between us. We have different way in which you should reach this ‘green economy’ and green society.”

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.