Sweden's government, led by Ulf Kristersson (M), faces criticism for its aid and climate policy. Photo: European People's Party. Source: Flickr.

Development magazine explains

This is the criticism of the government's aid and climate policy

At the beginning of November, Sweden's government presented the new budget. Reactions have come from many quarters regarding which political changes will be implemented. Aid and climate policy have been in focus among the global issues.

A hotly debated issue after the new government took office was aid. IN the government's budget proposal they describe that aid is a central part of Sweden's policy for global development and for the international implementation of Agenda 2030. With the new budget, the one percent target, which meant that one percent of GNI would be set aside for aid, is scrapped.

In the budget that has been presented for 2023, the aid budget amounts to SEK 56 billion, which is a decrease compared to the 2022 aid budget, which amounted to SEK 57,4 billion. The arguments for moving away from the one percent target with a reduction in aid are that the target is too narrow with too much focus on the sum and that financial resources are needed within Sweden.

A reduction in the aid budget from 1 to 0,7 percent, which Moderates has advocated*, is expected to have major effects, according to several civil society organizations. It would affect millions of people and risk jeopardizing both poverty alleviation and democratic development, shows a review of Plan International Sweden, Diakonia and We effect. Four million teenagers would not be able to take part in sex education and contraception, two million people would not have access to clean water, two million fewer children would have the chance to go to school and at least one million people who currently receive Swedish support would have a harder time to manage their food supply, writes Diakonia.

In an analysis of the autumn budget 2022, the umbrella organization writes Concord Sweden, which has 81 member organisations, that Sweden risks losing its role as an important donor of aid to low-income countries, countries affected by conflict, fragile states and marginalized groups when the government abandons the one percent target. Something that is highlighted as positive in the new budget is that the government introduces a ceiling for settlements for domestic refugee costs. These must only amount to 8 percent of the aid budget, which Concord describes as a positive step as the organization's members believe that costs for refugee reception within Sweden should not really be reported as aid at all.

Criticism of the government's environmental budget

Climate policy is also affected by the new budget. The government describes that mthe eel is that Sweden must pursue an efficient and ambitious energy, climate and environmental policy. Climate and Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari (L) speaks Svenska Dagbladet that a concrete example of this policy is the transport sector - where the government has presented a strong expansion of charging infrastructure and electrification.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation are, however, critical of the new environmental budget, then the expenditure area where a large part of the environmental budget is located will decrease from 23,75 billion in 2022 to 19,55 billion in 2023. The budget also contains a forecast for 2025 where the expenditure area is to be reduced to 10 billion.

- The budget lacks effective measures that produce results and that compensate for the large increases in emissions, writes the Nature Conservation Society.

The budget is also criticized by World Wildlife Fund WWF, which means that it is not favorable for electrification.

- A third of the government's reform space is now spent on subsidies for petrol, diesel and an increase in car travel. It is sad and will not only lead to greater emissions but will delay the entire climate transition of society, says Gustav Lind, Secretary General at WWF.

However, Romina Pourmokhtari expresses that the government still has the ambition to reach the climate goals by 2030.

- But absolutely, I have a tough situation and difficult starting points to succeed in what we are going to achieve, says Pourmokhtari to Dagens Industri 

*The Sweden Democrats also advocate a reduced aid. They have stated that in the long term they want to see aid halved.

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