Published 2019-06-17

This post is also available in Swedish

Towards net zero carbon emissions in Europe: Mistra researchers show the way

Jointly with Sweden’s Permanent Representation to the EU, Mistra held a seminar in Brussels on 4 June.

The seminar focused on the transition to a fossil-free economy in Europe. Its starting point was the European Commission’s long-term strategy presented in November last year, which is under negotiation among the member states in 2019. Ambassador Åsa Webber opened the meeting by stating that the question is now not whether, but how we can meet the climate-change target.

Lars Zetterberg, Programme Director of Mistra Carbon Exit, described the essential industrial transformation to come.

‘Every sector has to be transformed. What’s promising is that the technologies required for the transition to a climate-neutral society are largely known, and that there’s strong commitment in Swedish companies, including heavy carbon emitters like the steel and cement industries. But what the companies need are improved business incentives.’

Anna Kramers, Programme Director of Mistra SAMS (Sustainable Accessibility and Mobility Services), pointed out that the digitisation of society will accelerate restructuring of the transport system. The solutions lie in greater efficiency and new alternatives to transport, such as virtual meetings. The Mistra SAMS living lab in the Stockholm suburb of Tullinge is, for example, helping to reduce commuting between the north and south of the city.

Besides the Mistra researchers, Svante Axelsson, national coordinator of the government Fossil Free Sweden initiative, attended the seminar. Axelsson cited successes in getting Swedish companies to join the initiative, and spoke about how the phase-out of fossil fuels is increasingly seen as a competitive advantage, rather than a cost.

Members of the subsequent discussion panel were Erica Hope, European Climate Foundation; Pierre Schellekens, European Commission (DG CLIMA); Viktoria Karsberg, SSAB (steel); Jaroslav Zajiček, Czech Permanent Representation to the EU; Brook Riley, Rockwool; and Megan Richards, European Commission (DG Energy).

There was keen interest in the Swedish examples and results, but it was also stressed that there are major differences among the member states, and that the road ahead is not the same for them all. The industrial representatives on the panel called for unanimity and clarity on the policy side and higher emission prices, which would expedite investments in new technologies.

‘The seminar highlighted Mistra’s ability to contribute expertise that is useful for Brussels. It shows that our research programmes are of a consistently high standard and that our researchers are in demand here,’ says Mistra CEO Åke Iverfeldt.

The seminar was held within the framework of Mistra Dialogue, an initiative aimed at developing Mistra’s role as a knowledge provider.


Åke Iverfeldt and Lars Zetterberg


Presentation Lars Zetterberg (pdf)

Presentation Anna Kramers (pdf)

Presentation Svante Axelssson (pdf)

Article: “The European Commission’s long-term strategy for net-zero emissions by 2050 – how can Mistra make a difference?”