Schultz Environment Blog

Environment in a broad sense,transports and energy issues. From my local point of view with a global touch!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What a waste………
I wonder if there are any other issues so complicated to give advices about as waste. In the European Union we have a certain list of what is waste. It ought to be easy and understandable but the definition of waste has altered over the years. There have been the question if there is a value – then it isn’t waste. That was used as an excuse to transfer “waste” from one country to another. Of course it is good if something that seems to be waste is found to have a value and usable for other purposes.

In Sweden we produced approximately 0, 5 ton garbage per person and year of waste from households. The amount of waste from the households is not decreasing that it should do. But we are getting better to separate our waste at the source and that ease the handling of the waste quite good. There are still much do to avoid a lot of hazardous waste are incinerated or put in a landfill site, and of course to stop the use of dangerous chemicals in products. I’m quite convinced that we can do much more in separation of waste both in households and industry. The fiscal incentives must be more efficient constructed and the supervision of the legislation must be effective.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What if all flats were a bit of “eco-village” style.
I’m a bit surprised that there isn’t that much spoken about the environment before the election on the 17 of September in Sweden. That it cost too much in money or comfort to take measures for a better environment is an old opinion that still rules. It ought to be the opposite from my point of view. But you have to do things right from the beginning, have the right planning and the right structure in society, taxation etc all aiming for a better environment. Now it’s often something extra, a project or something extraordinary, when it comes to doing something for the environment.

Take for example the construction of eco-villages. We have the oldest eco-village “Tuggelite” in Sweden situated in Karlstad. It’s a very nice example of how houses can be constructed and heated in a more environment friendly way. Tuggelite is now 21 year old. We have one more eco-village, “Mjolnartorpet” in Karlstad. It’s quite good to have two eco-villages in the city but imagine if all the other houses built during these 20 years had been constructed in only a bit more environmental friendly way. The reality is that most blocks of flats that have been built during the last 20 years in Sweden hasn’t developed at all in the sense being more energy efficient. That’s a pity, isn’t it?

Monday, August 28, 2006

A lot of energy could have been saved…..
I remember in 1973 when we had the energy crisis and were recommended to turn out the light when we leaved a room. Now the Swedish government has given the Swedish Energy Agency a commission once again to teach the Swedes to save energy. Because we have forgotten, or? Although, the households buy energy efficient apparatus they buy so many more devises. The households spend more and more energy, as they consume a lot more comfortable things. We consume more energy because we want to do more things and do it in a comfortable way, and the market wants to earn more money on us. And the politicians are happy if we spend more money and keep the wheels rolling so that they get money to finance the society’s costs. It’s not only the squirrel that runs in a wheel.

Everybody knows that our energy consumption has an impact on the environment. Many people use too much energy and many don’t have any access to energy at all. The political force to get us to save energy does not seem to be for the reason of the environment, moreover it seems to be a question of the voter’s money. Why didn’t the politicians hang on to the harsh energy saving programme, as in 1973. Then, we would have a much better situation today.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Heavy rains on both east- and west coast of Sweden reported today. Flooding has occurred in more than one city centre. It begins to feel like everyday occasion with heavy rain etc. We had some thunder and some rain in Karlstad also but not that much.

The mushrooms like this dampness and starts to grow and that’s something to be happy about, although. The experts predict somewhat of explosion of mushrooms next week. The autumn begins and it gets darker in the evenings in our latitude. It is the time for more indoor activities in the evenings but yesterday nigth I was out. We had some really nice sky with stars all over and the milky way twinkled bright. It is nice to be one little human being looking up in the sky and see all those beutiful stars. These experiences of the beuty in nature makes us motivated for preserving actions. As one little human being you can try and affect the climate as little as possible by acting as environmental friendly as possible. There is always possibilities for these almost sacred moments, even in the darkness in the middle of the night.

Friday, August 25, 2006

“You can affect everything, with an exception for the weather”…or can you?
There is a saying that you can affect everything except for the weather. I have met that expression during the whole of my life, and I hear it almost every time there is a weather discussion. I think we have to adjust that saying after what we are continuously learning. We can and do affect the weather. I read an article in the Bolton Globe about the Weather Channel programme “The Climate Code”, coming up in October in US, sent to me by Erica M (thanks for flagging this). Even the rather conservative Weather Channel has realized that the human lifestyle affects the weather. Heidi Cullen at the weather channel says ``The Climate Code" will try to extract global warming from the bottom of inner-city agendas by featuring community activists who are trying to reach people unmoved by Hollywood eco-celebrities and untouched by Al Gore's film ``An Inconvenient Truth." She said the show will attempt to get across the fact that ``the weather isn't apolitical and not an act of God." She added, ``Our hand is now helping to guide it."

In Stockholm, we have one of the world’s longest series of weather data collections. There will be a 250-year anniversary on the 9:th of September this year. Since 1765 there has been someone checking out the temperature etc, of course with a little bit of new equipment and so on, but although, quite amazing. And still, how little we do know about the climate changes. Once, I saw a children’s programme at TV, “Do the fish know what water is” was the title. I think it’s quite applicable on what we know about the climate.
We have another saying “There are nothing such as bad weather, only bad clothes”. We are enjoying that at this moment in Sweden. It’s rain, hail, thunder and hurricanes. There is another saying “ We have the weather we deserve”!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cooperation in environment and health issues.
In Karlstad we have a twinning with Emthanjeni municipality in Northern Cape, South Africa. In 1998 the first discussions on a partnership between the municipalities of Karlstad and Emthanjeni took place and the following year the two municipalities signed a co-operation agreement. The partnership has since been focused on sustainable development and environmental improvements, just like it is stated in Agenda 21, a north-south exchange of knowledge and interaction. I will tell you more about the results another time.

In 2003 we began to discuss the HIV/Aids problems. In South Africa they have experienced of how fast HIV/Aids can spread amongst the population. According to the WHO there are now more than 1 million people in the subsahara region in Africa, receiving treatment for HIV/Aids.

Together with Save the Children organisation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Emthanjeni municipality, Hospice organisation (an NGO in Emthajeni) and the ABSA bank, De Aar, South Africa we run an information project about HIV/Aids in the schools in Emthanjeni this year. Young people in the age 18-25 years are trained to be tutors for younger people in the age 12-18 years, and teach them good lifestyle and how to protect yourself from being infected with HIV/Aids or other STD:s. The stakeholders play different roles in the project; our role is to help with the application for funds, practical advisors along the project and helping out with the evaluation.
Cooperation between stakeholders makes a project so much stronger and secures a better chance of success.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Environment-conscious shopping…
It strikes me that most cities compete to be the very best city for shopping. There are more and more external shopping centres inaugurated in the world, with the aim to get us to consume a little more than we need and we have to take the car to get there. Having good commerce in the cities is higher valued sign of success than a good environment.
You can read more about how we affect the environment in our daily life in the European report Environmental Impact of Products EIPRO in the link below.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More builders of red tape?
The European Commission has not been able to protect the environment or the natural resources in the project, they have supported in the developing countries. It is the European Court of Auditors that recently published a rather critical report concerning the environmental aspects of the commission’s development cooperation.
Another institution, that for a long time has been criticised, is the World Bank. They do not pay enough attention to the environmental aspects in their funding of projects in the developing countries.

Yesterday I wrote about politicians enforcing new legislation but not caring so much about the possible effects of these laws. I mean, whether the new law effectively promotes a better environment and sustainable development. It’s about the same with the institutions, like the World Bank and the Commission. One starts to wonder if they are only performing a sort of “the lips’ confession”. Do they really bother at all how the environment develops?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Make sense…?
More and more of complex legislation gives us more and more of administration at Environment Agencies and less of supervision that the rules are followed. And the advisors to the politicians that push through the proposed bills are fare away from the reality, often they are young rising politicians directly from school. Sometimes you get the impression that some legislation is only a product keeping the media of the back. The more complicated a rule or legislation is the less it can be questioned, because there aren’t anyone that can fully understand the implication of it.
The new legislation often forces the manufacturer or industrialist to more administration and less production, of course all in the name of better environment. And, you know, it is always more satisfactory for the politician to decide about new legislation (or something else new….) than audit what has been done.
I would like to see, more stringency in legislation, less complex rules, more politicians working for real for a better environment and sustainable development. Next month we have election in Sweden and I wonder if there ill be a promising land ahead…..?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Water can be used for more than fire fighting…
According to UN over 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. In many areas in US and Australia the ground water level decreases year by year. Big cities like Sydney and Beijing are subject to water shortage certain periods. There isn’t enough of fresh clean water in the surroundings. In Sweden, where we have lots of clean and fresh water we don’t economize at all with water.

WWF criticise the European Union for the policy of subsidising the cultivation of water demanding crops like maize and sugar beat instead of traditional lemon or olive. I think they are right in their criticism. There are calculations that in 2050 around two thirds of the population will suffer from water shortage. There have been and still are wars fought due to water shortage. It is about time we starts to handle this divine gift with the care it should be. And that also goes for the countries that have more than enough of fresh and clean water.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Do you need a pesticide for each vermin?
According to the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate in 2005, a total of 9,290 metric tonnes of pesticides (active substances) was sold in Sweden, which is 46 tonnes less than the previous year. The main part (76 percent) was sold to industry, primarily for wood treatment using pressure and vacuum technology.
The industrial use of pesticides (biocidal products) fell by 809 ton during 2005 compared to the previous year.
In agriculture and horticulture, sold quantities increased by 590 tonnes to 1,665 tonnes and now account for 18 percent of the total sold quantities of pesticides. Household use increased by more than 173 tonnes and use in forestry decreased with 1 tonne.
Do we really need all these sorts of pesticides in our households?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Look out – fires ahead….
British scientists have found that one third of the forests in the Amazon, China and Central America can be extinct through forest fire, due to climate changes. Instead we can see new forests spreading out in the Arctic. This will happen with a climate change of just 2 degrees and we will see the effects in 100-200 years, according to these scientists. The forests on Earth are bound for some heavy changes.

Up in the north of Sweden we are now experiencing one of the biggest forest fires in modern time. There are 1 500 hectares on fire and estimations show that it will cost approximately 7 million $. And it is only 1, 5 years ago a whole years production of trees blew down in a storm in the south of Sweden. The forest industry is one of the most important export sectors in Sweden. Perhaps it isn’t only the ocean islands that will suffer severely from climate changes? Here in Sweden I have met some people having the opinion that it will be rather nice with some degrees warmer climate here. They haven’t for sure calculated with damages on the economy due to climate changes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Better late than ever….
Today the Minister for Sustainable Development announced at a press conference that she wants to investigate if it is possible to set long-term targets for solar heating systems, like the one for wind power. What an announcement! Although Sweden has high competence in the field of solar energy, we are miles away from, for example Austria, in supporting solar energy introduction.

Sometimes it takes a long time to get started. Why is it like that? Why doesn’t the system with political policies and targets function in the field of energy production? Why don’t politicians offer better incitements for a greener energy production? Of course they are afraid that the public would have to pay too much for their electricity and heating, but without targets and focus on greener energy production nobody will aim for that. Infant industries must be supported before they can compete in a fair way.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Can you feel anything about energy?
We visited the cottage during the weekend. It is a very pleasant place with low noise levels and a more, sort of slow living. There is an earth cellar; a great place to store vegetables, wine etc in. It feels very nice knowing that there is no extra energy needed to get that nice temperature, just treating mother earth the right way and make use of the laws of thermodynamics. The wood heated sauna by gives the same feeling. To get 90 degrees with the use of just 6-8 firewood’s is fantastic.
Back home in the city we have a refrigerator driven by electricity – it doesn’t give the same feeling as the earth cellar– but of course it is much more comfortable.

New techniques can be rather energy efficient and comfortable, but what about the “energy feeling”? A challenge for designers would be to create new techniques that give us some sort of reluctance to consume more energy than necessary for the goods and services we use the energy for. Take for instance hand powered radios. Of course the products must be energy efficient and as clean as possible in production, that’s also a part of the “energy feeling”. I think the feeling comes when you know you get as much goods and services out of as little and natural energy transformation as possible.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fun – but a little crazy, or isn’t it?
Around 25 degrees and you fancy some cross-country skiing? Although, Sweden is a northern country, that ought to be impossible. A young friend of mine took the car 100 km together with a mate today, to do some cross-country skiing. There is a ski tunnel inaugurated one week ago which they wanted to try. Have a look at:

Fantastic, what can be achieved if you only have the monetary means. There is only one thing you can’t read about on the website; the energy costs. Well, they skied 25 km in the tunnel, at a temperature of -2 degrees, went by car 200 km, and had a really nice day. I, myself, went for a jog with my wife with at a temperature of +26 degrees, 6 km. It was also really nice as well, but a bit hot. What a difference in energy balance.

The tunnel helps to avoid cancelled ski tournament due to lack of snow (perhaps due to climate changes?) and perhaps helps the Swedes to win ski tournaments. We already since long time play ice hockey in buildings and we get indoor soccer arenas. Engineers can construct a lot to let us avoid the outdoor weather when we want to do some leisure activities. But it costs some energy. How much can we afford? As always, that’s depends on who is paying the bill. We ought to say thank you to Italy, France, Germany and the rest of EU because the ski tunnel is financed partly with EU funds.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It’s worth the effort of exchanging experience
The council of European Municipalities and Regions made together with EnergieCities and Climate Alliance a nice guidebook for regional and local authorities this spring. It contains a pool of ideas, measures and good practice examples to develop and implement action plans for sustainable energy. You find it on the web at It’s worth considering, I think.
In Karlstad we have just finished up the work with a revision of our Energy plan and also produced a new Transport strategy paper for the city. In that work we used the experience from several European cities. You can gain a lot by using experience from others. I hope our plans soon will be translated to English so that I can publish them for you to look into.

Should you want to give your opinion on the European Commissions Green Paper “Energy”? Just visit this link and you can answer the online questionnaire. The consultation is open until the 24 of September. It’s quite a broad questionnaire but of course a temptation for the interested.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Why does the Swedish government want us to cycle indoors instead of outdoors?
Each EU citizen is responsible for 11 tonnes of greenhouse gas emission per year and out of them 9 tonnes are emissions of carbon dioxide. Imagine what each person can do about his/her carbon dioxide footprint. But it isn’t just up to the individual to change. The financial and economic system also has to be changed, at least the way they are applied. It has to pay off better to behave in an environmentally friendly way.

In Sweden for instance you get paid by your employer if you go to the gym and exercise spinning on a bicycle during worktime, without being taxed for this. But if you commute by bike to your work the employer can’t award this without taxation for both employer and employee. This is just one example of inappropriate taxation from an environmental view.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You got to have split vision
I’m a member in the enforcement and regulation council. It is a body for cooperation between Swedish public authorities concerning enforcement and regulation matters in association with the Swedish Environmental Code.
One of the main tasks is to coordinate the national authorities in their work with guidance to regional and local authorities. If you are more curious about the work in the council visit the website
Its interesting meeting the national level view for me and my colleague from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities in the council. Although, sometime it is a bit frustrating to see how far from each other the different levels are in the everyday work. International and national legislation and policies are often not that easy to supervise or enforce in the daily work at the local level. Perhaps the experience from work at the local level often is missing in the teams writing the drafts for the politicians. Change of views could be something to train and use more often in policymaking and in drafts of legislation. The enforcement and regulation council is one platform to share a vision of how the Swedish Environmental Code can be enforced.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Climate Change - can you make a change?
According to the work being done in a Swedish official report, my city Karlstad may, by the year 2100 be almost totally flooded due to climate changes. What’s the situation like in your city? The International Panel on Climate Changes predicts that the average global temperature will have increased by 1,4 to 5,8 degrees Celsius in the year 2100 due to human activities. Is it possible to do something about it? Well, you can change your behaviour a little. And yes, of course it makes a difference although your neighbour doesn’t undertake anything.
Do you want to change your behaviour but don’t quite no how. Visit the link and use the calculator and see your carbon dioxide footprint and eventually make a pledge.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Keep Europe moving!
That’s the name of the midterm review of EU:s white paper for transports. And it really pinpoints that Europe should keep on moving, whatever it takes. Mobility is one of the new European human rights, it seems. Of course, it also states that we have to try and fix the inconvenient things which is the backside of transports; outlets of exhaust gases, land barriers, noise levels, traffic deaths and accidents etc.
But transports and mobility seems to be the engine in the growth of Europe whatever it takes. The discussion of decoupling the growth of transport from the economic growth seems to have totally disappeared.

Working with transport issues in a local level makes you feel like-what sort of moving is it that is needed? Will it be enough with idling on the spot, like the training in the military? I thought it might be ok, if we move the goods, for example food and garbage far enough. We already have that situation that your breakfast is far more a globetrotter than yourself. Perhaps that’s what the midterm review tries to say us. Locally you have to challenge your breakfast in being the outmost traveller! That’s your contribution to get the economy in Europe to flourish. It’s like the climate changes, traffic deaths and accidents are forgotten for a while. I wonder how much we must move to keep the economy growing. Is it really so that growth of transports is needed for economic growth? The midterm review of the white paper on transports isn’t a hit from my point of view.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"Money makes the world go around, the world go around”
sang Liza Minelli in Cabary several years ago. But is it really money that makes the world go around? Isn’t it energy in the form of nuclear power plants, fossil fuels, and the sun, human manpower etc which keeps the world goes around? It seems as the economists more and more realizes that’s how it works, money is just a human invention. And the natural laws are much more powerful than the economical laws.

Half of the nuclear power plants in Sweden have been shut down due to safety problems, last weeks. We have also had a very dry summer which means that the water reserves for water power plants haven’t been filled up. The price of electricity rises immediately. The price setting mechanisms in the field of energy is complicated. Unfortunately, it isn’t like environmentally nice energy used becomes cheep and environmentally not that nice energy used get expensive for the customer. Even the bills sent to the customers are so complicated that we need help from experts (like those in Rådrummet that I wrote about yesterday) to understand why it is so expensive. And the scarcer the energy is the more money earns the energy companies.

“Energy makes the world go around”, but it is a lot of companies, people getting rich on the way, even when we start using sun-, wind power. I think I know why it has taken so long time for us to get power from the sun and the wind in our energy system! The big energy companies hasn’t until recently figured out how to be able to construct a complicated system so they can get rich on distributing the new energy sources to us, without owning the sun or the wind. I mean it isn’t like owning an oil well or a river or a nuclear power plant!
We will get sun power and wind power now when it’s possible to get rich for someone on it. Perhaps the song isn’t that wrong, maybe it is money that makes the world go around?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Guidance needed!
If you want people to behave in a more environment friendly way there are a need for guidance. In my agency I think we have something good going on in that field. Since nearly 9 years we have an advice bureau “Rådrummet” running. It is an office, by the town square, with experts with different skills in the fields of environment. There are consumer guidance experts, mobility management officers, waste handling advisor, agenda 21 coordinators, and energy efficiency advisors. Altogether, 10 people with the mission to give the public good guidance in how to behave in a more environment friendly way in the everyday life.
The people in the city know about the “Rådrummet”, which is open every weekday between 11.00-16.00, and they like it. We also make exhibitions there, host different meetings about environment and answer people’s questions about environmental issues.
We have had lots of visitors from other parts of Sweden and from many cities from different parts in the world. You are welcome to take contact if you are interested in a visit for your city or organisation. Why not try to get your own city to start such an Advice Centre for environment issues and how to behave in a sustainable direction? It’s good to get guidance!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cholera in Sweden!!
These days the Swedish newspapers write about some cases of people bathing in the sea catching Cholera. It is not the severe form of cholera which ravaged in Sweden back in the middle of the 1800: s century. But still there are a handful of people that have got severe wounds on the legs due to these bacteria, Vibrio cholera. The bacteria have been found in both salt and fresh water, not so abundant, but still. The summer in Sweden has so far been very warm and still is. There is a discussion if the climate changes can cause these little surprises in a near future.

Better environmentally adapted transports and energy systems, saving in the natural resources, sustainable development can hinder the climate changes caused by mankind. But it takes a lot of politics, media, legislation, people’s behaviour to accomplish some small steps in the right direction. It’s like starting up a blogg late in the evening. It can be done even if you are tired and it is difficult with the language etc. So, let’s start everybody. Start changing the world in the right direction!