Will Swedish forest have to make way for growing crops, in a changing world? Photo: Nigel Duara/TT

How climate change abroad could hit Sweden

Researcher: Sweden could become a breadbasket
5:09 min

Politicians and Commissioners of the European Union are currently discussing what targets to set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But considering current global action, the future for global action on climate change looks bleak.

The summit in Warsaw in December 2013 delivered action that Sweden's centre-right government sees as far from enough. So it is now worth thinking about the consequences of what will happen if the climate does keep changing at roughly the same pace.

And while Sweden may not be in line for disasterous hurricanes or scorching droughts, experts say climate change in other countries could have a serious effect on this Nordic nation. 

"The big question is what path we're on," says Oskar Wallgren at the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI). it is a government funded body devoted to bringing science and policy closer together. He thinks that humanity will not just sleepwalk into a climate crisis, and that the amount of greenhous gas will not simply increase. Eventually, he says, even China and the USA will see the need for change.

But Oska Wallgren is one of the leaders of the institute's work on climate change adaptation. How to deal with a changed world.

And while Sweden will not be massively flooded, hit by hurricanes or suffer droughts, it is closely linked to the wider world. As part of the EU Sweden's food supply is tied to countries like Spain, Greece and Italy, which could all see acriculture hit by water shortages, if global temperatures increase by just a few degrees. And people from EU countries might decide to exercise their freedom of movement and come to Scandinavia, where climate change may even mean more of a chance to grow crops.

Many of the measures that Sweden had in place, during the world wars and the cold war, to make sure of food security and economic survival in a world in crisis have been gradually abolished.

One of the countries thart is spending time looking into the cross-border effects of climate change is Britain, with its long extended trade networks and international interests.

Over in Oxford an institute at the university is also looking at climate change adaptation. Radio Sweden spoke to Roger Street, from the research body UKCIP.

He says we are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and that our children and grandchildren will have to live in a world affected by melting Arctic ice. He says that the far north will also become a place of greater opportunities, partly as shipping routes open up, but also as the ground there becomes warmer and countries like Sweden could take on a role as Europe's breadbasket.

So is it a good idea to buy land in Sweden's far north? Oskar Wallgren at the Stockholm Environment Institute says it may be a safe bet, but you might have to wait generations for your investment to pay off.

Reporter: Loukas Christodoulou
loukas.christodoulou@sverigesradio.se
@Loukas_RS

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