Exploring sufficiency in energy policy: insights from Sweden

Energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies have been insufficient in achieving rapidand profound reductions of energy-related greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Consequently,energy sufficiency has gained attention as a complementary strategy over the past twodecades. Yet, most research on energy sufficiency has been theoretical and its implementationin policy limited. This study draws on the growing sufficiency literature to examine thepresence of sufficiency as a strategy for reducing energy-related GHG emissions in Sweden,a country often regarded as a “climate-progressive” country.

By conducting a keyword andcontent analysis of energy policies and parliamentary debates during four governmentalterms of office (2006–2022), this research explores the extent to which sufficiency is integratedinto Swedish energy policy, as well as potential barriers to its adoption. The analyses revealeda scarcity of sufficiency elements. Although some policies could potentially result in energysavings, they are infrequent and overshadowed by the prevailing emphasis on efficiency andrenewable energy.

Furthermore, Sweden lacks a target for sufficiency or absolute energyreductions. The main impediments to sufficiency implementation include the disregard ofscientific evidence in the policy-making process and the perceived contradiction betweensufficiency and industrial competitiveness. This study thus concludes that sufficiency at bestremains at the periphery of Swedish energy policy. Given the reinforced ambitions withinthe European Union, this raises questions regarding the validity of Sweden’s reputation asa climate-progressive country.

Subscribe to our newsletter