From: Mattias Karen, Associated Press
Published October 5, 2004 12:00 AM

OECD Praises Sweden's Environmental Policy, Suggests Improvements

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) praised Sweden recently for being a leader in national and international environmental policy but also said it had areas that needed improvement.

The OECD's 29 member countries, which include the United States, Japan, Canada, and most European Union nations, were reporting on a survey of Sweden's environmental policy and performance conducted in June.

The report shows that Sweden has gone above and beyond many of OECD recommendations, Lorents Lorentsen, director of the OECD Environment Directorate, told a news conference.

Lorentsen singled out Sweden's recent "green tax shift," under which tax increases on energy and pollutants are to offset lowered income taxes, as an area where Sweden is setting a precedent.

"That's pretty unique within the OECD," he said.

Sweden also has stricter environmental laws than most OECD countries and keeps a high profile internationally on environmental issues, despite being a small country, he said.

"They're always visible within the U.N. and the E.U.," he said. "They should have a lot of praise."

Still, there are things that the Scandinavian country can do better, he said.

Sweden lacks a national strategy for caring and tending to marine areas in the Baltic Sea and needs to increase the number of parks and other green sites in its cities, the report said.

"This is a critique that we have to embrace," Environment Minister Lena Sommestad said. "This report is very valuable for Swedish environmental work."

The survey looked at how Sweden is fulfilling its own environmental goals and policy but did not compare it to other countries. The OECD usually releases environmental reports on four of its member countries every year. This was the first time Sweden had been surveyed since 1996.

Sweden, a country of 9 million, has long prided itself on its strict environmental laws and high taxes on energy and gasoline.

Source: Associated Press

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