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    Spring Meltdown

    The sun and the mild breeze of this past week have joined forces to convince us, poor frozen souls of the North, that there will yet be spring. We rejoice at the sheer sense of freedom as we shed off layer after protective layer of winter clothes, rummage after long-abandoned sunglasses, slow down our pace to prolong a pleasant stroll. And yes, the sight and smell of melting ice are exhilarating, despite the adverse environmental associations.

    As much as I am enjoying this rather early advent of ‘spring is in the air’ mode, I cannot help wondering what it might mean for the lively debate on energy policy, spurred by the recent cold spell. Is it, too, destined to melt into thin air now? Out of sight, out of mind? For instance, it has been quite refreshing to follow the renewed vigour in the clash between opponents on both sides of the nuclear energy issue. Power shortages, electricity price hikes, and the need to import coal-generated power from neighbouring countries were what it took for the politically sensitive debate to leave its narrow Swedish opinion corridor[1].

    It has been entertaining as well. Even foreign media picked up on the hard-to-resist image of a Swedish politician, defiantly posing with her vacuum cleaner, ready for action. It turns out that Swedes were not quite prepared to compromise with their cleanliness standards just so they can save energy, as urged by a TV reporter at the beginning of February. Especially when there seem to be possible solutions to the crisis within easy reach.

    I hear that across the ocean, even Texans are slowly recovering from their deep freeze now. I wonder how much damage the viral, if misleading, image of a wind turbine being defrosted by a helicopter, has caused. There are plenty of conservative politicians over there, eager to encourage distrust of renewable energy systems in a state largely dependent on natural gas. A fun fact unearthed by Brian Kahn, managing editor of the Earther, is that that particular viral image actually was from Sweden in 2014, not present-day Texas. “Misinformation is running rampant,” is his conclusion.

    I won’t be sorry to see the entertainment aspect of the debate melt in the spring sun. For all I care, politicians are welcome to move on to the next symbolic issue for making their cheap points. It would, however, be a pity to not follow up with some serious research and a plausible action plan for upgrading our energy policy. Winter, just like springtime, is a recurring phenomenon after all.

     

    [1] ‘Åsiktskorridor’, or opinion corridor, is a relatively new Swedish word, defined as the range of opinions that is socially acceptable to hold or express

    Julia Axelsson
    Julia has accumulated experience in asset management for more than 20 years in Stockholm and Beijing, in portfolio management, asset allocation, fund selection and risk management. In December 2020, she completed a program in Sustainability Studies at the University of Linköping. Julia speaks Mandarin, Bulgarian, Hindi, Russian, Swedish, Urdu and English. She holds a Master in Indology from Sofia University and has completed studies in Economics at both Stockholm University and Stockholm School of Economics.

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