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Social victory in Sweden: Oil company Preem drops plans to expand oil refinery

After two years of protests, the Swedish environmental movement celebrates a major new victory

“I’m absolutely sure that our resistance was one of the big factors that made them realise that this was not going to happen” said activist Lena Maloney from Friends of the Earth Sweden in an interview with Real World Radio.

“They might have been able to expand their oil refinery if there had been less uproar,” added the environmental activist who lives in Gothenburg.

According to Friends of the Earth Sweden, the expansion of the Lysekil refinery would have resulted in a doubling of Preem’s carbon emissions, which would have made them the biggest emitter in Sweden.

In a press release issued by the environmental organisation on 28 September, the Chair, Mikael Sundström, said that the “idea of ​​allowing Preem to greatly expand its fossil fuel-based operations and thus become Sweden’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases has been totally unsustainable from the very beginning.” “It is with great pleasure that we receive the news that Preem is withdrawing the application,” he added.

In an interview with Real World Radio, Maloney recounted how the process of resistance against the expansion project started in 2018, with the participation of several environmental organisations and citizens. The resistance involved actions and demonstrations in different cities and advocacy work on the national government.

“I think they realised too that even if the Government said yes we would appeal” in Sweden or European courts, stressed Maloney. “These things would take years and I think they realised that by this time oil would definitely be on its way out.”

The representative of Friends of the Earth Sweden reaffirmed that Preem wanted to present themselves as “very green”. The environment movement denounced this, making their position very clear for people. For example in 2019, Friends of the Earth Sweden awarded Preem with the “Swedish Greenwash Prize [1]”.