While Dubya’s new budget makes it clear that we’re not really going to do a hell of a lot about our “oil addiction,” the Swedes are taking a quite different approach: they’re developing a plan for being “practically oil-free” by 2020. Though this news came out some time back, the Guardian has published an article that’s spread like wildfire across the blogosphere. I linked to the post from the MoJo blog because author Bradford Plummer draws the inevitable comparison between Sweden and the US:
Now the obvious question: Why can’t the United States do something like this? There are major differences between us and Sweden, sure: the latter is much smaller, uses less oil, has an abundance of rivers, more nuclear power plants, and less sprawl. That all makes things much easier. And, according to Prime Minister Goran Persson, Sweden’s farms and forests are more conducive to generating biofuel than America’s. But as I’ve pointed out before, it’s physically impossible to power the whole world—or even more than a small portion—with biofuel, and the United States would have to find its own mix of renewable resources no matter what (most likely involving a heavy dose of solar). So Sweden’s not, in a strict sense, a “model” here.
Still, this is what a grown-up approach to energy policy looks like. Nothing mind-blowing. Nothing impossible. All you need is a government willing to act. The contrast between the Swedes and an administration that backtracks from even modest statements on ending our oil addiction—and then lays off 32 workers at the National Renewable Energy Lab because of a $28 million budget shortfall there—pretty much speaks for itself. Lucky us. [my emphasis]
Lucky us, indeed!