Country profile - Drivers and impacts (Sweden)

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Main drivers of environmental pressures and contribution to multiple impacts. Links to more national information.
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Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
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Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
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Last updated
23 Sep 2011
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Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Published: 23 Oct 2010 Modified: 28 Jun 2016 Feed synced: 23 Sep 2011 original
Key message

Sweden is among the few industrial countries that can report a declining trend in national emissions of greenhouse gases.

c) What are the main drivers of environmental pressures and how do these contribute to multiple impacts on people and the natural environment?


More efficient energy use and transport

One of the most important driving forces behind the development of energy and transportation in Sweden is the economic trend in income, GNP, reallocations among industries, foreign trade and globalisation of production systems. Sweden is highly dependent on imports and exports, which also results in a great need for transportation.

In spite of this, Sweden is among the few industrial countries that can report a declining trend in national emissions of greenhouse gases. Since 1993 there has been a 40 % growth in GNP. Greenhouse gas emissions have diminished by 11.7 % between 1990 and 2008.

See website on Sweden's report to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions:             

Swedish carbon dioxide taxes are another important driving force. In 2006, the share of renewable sources of energy within the country amounted to 29 %, which is a relatively high share in an international perspective. The sources consist primarily of biofuels and hydroelectric power.

Long-range transport of air pollutants is, and has long been, a cause for problems such as acidification, eutrophication and elevated concentrations of tropospheric ozone and particles. The problem has affected southern Sweden in particular. Accordingly, international efforts to limit air pollution have great significance within the country's borders as well. These efforts have been successfully carried out since the 1980s and have contributed to reducing the impact from acidification as well as to diminishing the number of episodes involving high concentrations of tropospheric ozone.  

Non-toxic, resource-saving environmental life cycles

New problem substances are constantly being identified at the same time as concentrations of already known environmentally hazardous substances continue to present problems. One of the driving forces within this area is increased demand for chemical products in all countries as well as the globalisation of production and trade, which leads to added dissemination of chemicals and goods that contain hazardous substances.

The volume of Swedish household waste increased by 24 % during the 1994–2005 period. Waste from manufacturing industries increased by 21 % during the same period. The different rates of increase depend in part on variations in the economic situation, changes in population size, composition and geographic distribution and the outsourcing of production to other countries.

For information on waste statistics, see Swedish EPA website

Management of land, water and the built environment

As matters now stand, consumption of products and services is the most important driving force affecting our use of ecosystem services. The environmental impact of consumption – both private and public – is a fundamental problem for the management of natural resources, land, water and buildings. As consumers, we have an everyday impact on the development of the environment – for example, through our purchases of various products, such as food.

There is great need to protect natural and cultural environments, both through governmental and private measures. It is a matter of providing protection both in the form of, for example, national parks and nature reserves, and through the introduction of cultivation methods that protect biological diversity, watercourses, etc. There is also a need to restore and recreate environments in order to regain lost functions or values in the landscape.

For information on national parks, see Swedish EPA website,


Total tourist consumption in Sweden increased in 2008 by 6.3 %. Between 2000 and 2008, total tourism consumption in Sweden increased more than 50 % in current prices.

For more information, see the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth website,

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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