In 2005 the government of Sweden announced their intention to make Sweden the first country to break its dependence on petroleum, natural gas and other ‘fossil raw materials’ by 2020. In making this decision, four reasons were cited by the Government:
As of 2005, oil supplies provided about 32% of the country's energy supply, with nuclear power and hydroelectricity providing much of the remainder. Although it was not proposed to end the use of oil entirely, the 2020 date was seen as a marker on a continuing process of the "oil phase-out in Sweden".
To make recommendations on how dependency on oil should be broken, the government created a Commission on Oil Independence (Kommissionen för att bryta oljeberoendet i Sverige till år 2020), headed by the then Prime Minister Göran Persson, which reported in June 2006.
In their report, the Commission proposed the following targets for 2020:
Replacing oil with renewable energy sources and energy conservation measures to cut total energy use was envisioned. This is also expected to result in cuts in carbon emissions and to strengthen the country's role in sustainable development technologies as well as increasing its international economic competitiveness.
The Commission is also recommending that the government should not sanction the creation of a national natural gas infrastructure, on the belief that this would inhibit the development of biofuels and encourage the use of gas in place of oil.
To cut energy use, the commission anticipates that by 2020 at least 75% of all new housing would use low-energy building techniques similar to the German Passive house standard, and that it will also be necessary to modernize the existing housing stock, including replacing direct electric heating systems (with systems heated by district heating, biofuels or heat pumps).
As part of reducing industrial consumption, it is proposed that carbon allowances issued in Sweden under the European Union Emission Trading Scheme should be cut to 75% of their initial levels by 2020.
The taxation system is also likely to be used to influence energy choices, together with education and public awareness initiatives.
The prospects for the proposals are currently uncertain following the defeat of the Prime Minister's Swedish Social Democratic Party in September's 2006 Swedish general election. The Commission's proposals do remain, however, of international interest.