When Anders Heggestad and Emma Wallin began to understand that the climate goals that Sweden had set were not at all in line with what promised in the Paris Agreement, they became worried and confused. Instead of setting the goals that science requires, the goals are set based on what is judged to be politically feasible.
– The scientific logic that determines global warming is not taken into account when setting the political goals. What determines global warming is the total volume of carbon dioxide we emit over time. The gap between our current climate goals and what is required is therefore very large, says Anders Heggestad, from Klimatsekretariatet.
What is needed is a fixed volume budget for the emissions. At first, we need to learn this budget and then manage it wisely, Anders describes. If we reduce emissions according to the linear way that is now applied, the accumulated volume of greenhouse gas emissions will be too large.
– We think wrong, speak with the wrong words and we are not in line with the Paris Agreement, Anders concludes.
An invisible gap for journalism
Anders Heggestad is appalled by society’s inability to grasp the climate issue and thinks a great responsibility lies in (the lack of) journalism.
– There is a gap between politics and science, where the logic of the climate issue is systematically withheld from us and we instead talk about goals that are unscientific political inventions. This gap is not highlighted in the public debate which is a major and ongoing journalistic failure, Anders says.
A new digital tool shows the way towards the Paris Agreement
Anders Heggestad has previously been active in the IT industry where he, among other things, helped start-ups find financing. On the other side of a life crisis, he found his passion: carbon budgets.
Together with Emma Wallin, postgraduate in theoretical philosophy, Klimatsekretariatet was started. Shortly thereafter a collaboration was initiated with Uppsala University, where research has recently begun on how we break down the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets to individual countries and municipalities and establish scientifically based emissions targets: local carbon budgets.
The interest in the research was high among Swedish municipalities, about 30 of them have ordered a local carbon budget in a report form from Uppsala University.
– We have seen how the interest in science, and the desire to meet the Paris Agreement, exploded in a few years among the municipalities, explains Johan Gustafsson, who is the product manager at Klimatsekretariatet.
– To make the research from Uppsala and the UN-reports from IPCC, easier to understand, we have developed ClimateVisualizer — a visualization tool that makes it possible to see and follow your own local carbon budget, as a cloud service on the internet.
Unlike a carbon budget in the form of a report, ClimateVisualizer can update all data on an ongoing basis and the tool therefore always provides a current picture of the emission statistics in a municipality and the remaining budget available.
– Before ClimateVisualizer, citizens could not acquire local and scientific knowledge about our climate goals, how we move towards them, and how well we comply with the Paris Agreement. It is actually quite obvious in a goal-oriented structure that such information is needed, says Johan.
The first to use ClimateVisualizer is the municipality of Nyköping, which launched the service just before the summer. Several municipalities are in line, says Emma Wallin, who is head of analysis at Klimatsekretariatet.
– We see a huge interest from the municipalities and of course hope that the tool will be able to help both politicians, officials, and the public to understand, follow, and achieve the Global Goals.
From decision material to binding goals
However, living up to the global temperature targets is no small challenge for a Swedish municipality. Typically, Uppsala University recommends emission reductions in the order of 15 percent annually, starting this year. In individual cases (such as Borlänge and Gullspång), the municipality is considering setting binding emissions targets. Klimatsekretariatet believes that most municipalities will probably have to resign a little and see their limitations in which emissions can be affected. But the tool also provides an opportunity to involve the inhabitants of the municipality in a more radical policy.
– The local carbon budget is a good tool for starting the right conversation. By focusing on what science says and how it calculates, but also what our domestic climate statistics tell us, it shifts the debate from being about words to being about numbers, which is a positive shift, says Emma Wallin.
Climate Visualizer has received funding from Sweden’s Innovation Vinnova’s civic tech call, just like Civic Tech Sweden. On October 20 at 14–15:30, the digital seminar “How can data help fight Climate Change?” is organised together.