Will the Swedish environmental quality objectives be achieved?

Environmental Quality Objective

Assessment of prospects of achieving the objective.
Forecast for 2020.

Begränsad klimatpåverkan. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 1. Reduced Climate Impact

"Greenhouse gas concentrations are rising. In the long-term, global emissions need to be around zero in order to keep the temperature rise as far below 2°C as possible, and thus minimise the risk of dangerous climatic impacts. To achieve this, societal changes and technological developments are necessary. The ambitions of the international climate cooperation must be strengthened, along with stringent and new national policy instruments.

Frisk luft. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 2. Clean Air

"Air pollutants cause damage to human health, vegetation and our cultural heritage. Several new decisions improve the conditions for achieving the objective, but continued investments are necessary. Internationally, initiatives must be implemented to reduce the concentrations of particulates and ground-level ozone. At a national level, the emissions of nitrogen oxides must be reduced as well as the particulates released by the use of studded tyres and solvents

Bara naturlig försurning. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 3. Natural Acidification Only

"The deposition of pollutants causing acidification has declined in the last decades, as has the number of acidified lakes and watercourses. However, more initiatives are required to reduce emissions from land-based sources in Europe and from international shipping. The new clean air strategy and revision of the National Emission Ceilings Directive in the EU are key initiatives. At national level, action is needed to mitigate the effects of forestry in particular.

Giftfri miljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 4. A Non-Toxic Environment

"Some toxic pollutants are declining in the environment. For many other substances, we do not know enough about their effects on humans and the environment. Growing global consumption results in increased production of chemicals and goods, and with this the diffuse dispersal of dangerous substances. In the EU, restrictions are beginning to be imposed on substances of very high concern. In many sectors, interest is on the rise in voluntary substitution of hazardous substances. Legislation must be developed in certain cases in order to bring about toxin-free life-cycles.

Skyddande ozonskikt. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 5. A Protective Ozone Layer

Much evidence indicates that the ozone layer has started to regenerate. The Montreal Protocol is the most important policy instrument for this and has proved to be successful. Emissions and concentrations of the majority of ozone-depleting substances continue to fall, but nitrous oxide and emissions from end-of-life products are factors that impact negatively. Continued international work and national management of end-of-life products are important.

Säker strålmiljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 6. A Safe Radiation Environment

Radiation safety has developed positively in many areas. Nonetheless, the number of skin cancer cases has been increasing for many years. To reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation, lifestyles and attitudes to sunbathing and personal appearance need to change. Even if exposure to UV radiation declines, the number of cancer cases will continue to rise for some time, as it can take decades for skin cancer to develop.

Ingen övergödning. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 7. Zero Eutrophication

"Nutrient loads are declining. In some areas, symptoms of eutrophication are abating, but much of Sweden is still affected. The conditions are worst in the Baltic Sea. Initiatives to curb nutrient emissions have produced results, but emissions must be reduced further if we are to realise the objective; moreover, the rate of recovery is slow. International cooperation is of vital importance.

Levande sjöar och vattendrag. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 8. Flourishing Lakes and Streams

"Several salmon stocks are increasing and liming is having an effect. Physical impacts, environmental toxins, eutrophication, and climate change are the greatest challenges. The water authorities’ action programme needs to be approved and the proposals in the water operations report need to be implemented. More protection and restoration of aquatic environments is necessary. Cultural environments must be taken into account more in initiatives for water. More follow-up of initiatives is needed.

Grundvatten av god kvalitet. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 9. Good-Quality Groundwater

"Expanded and improved monitoring is essential in order to identify, prioritise and address groundwater problems. The work to protect groundwater resources must be accelerated. More effective measures are needed within environmental supervision, societal planning, water management and the agricultural sector. Use of natural gravel must be decreased.

Hav i balans samt levande kust och skärgård. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 10. A Balanced Marine Environment, Flourishing Coastal Areas and Archipelagos

"Eutrophication, toxic pollutants and to some extent weak fish stocks are the major challenges for the marine environment. Other concerns are marine litter, and alien species, and the disturbance or destruction of sensitive habitats and cultural environments. The Action programme arising from the Marine Ordinance has been approved and will be crucial in achieving the objectives in the long-term. To achieve this objective, much remains to be done to develop and implement policy instruments, both in Sweden and at EU level.

Myllrande våtmarker. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 11. Thriving Wetlands

"Valuable wetlands are still being damaged and the vegetation is changing. Natural and cultural values and ecosystem services are being adversely affected. Effects of drainage, water regulation, climate change, alien species and nitrogen deposition remain a problem. Protection, management and restoration are being implemented on a very small scale and must be stepped up, as well as environmental consideration in forestry, agriculture, and other sectors. Much remains to be done with the key policy instruments, both in Sweden and at EU level.

Levande skogar. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 12. Sustainable Forests

"The current environmental initiatives are not sufficient to achieve society’s agreed environmental objectives for forests. The quality and scope of measures to counter loss of habitat and fragmentation must increase. The conservation status of numerous forest types is inadequate, and many forest species are threatened. The areal extent of ancient forests and protected forests is increasing. Several future-oriented initiatives are ongoing.

Ett rikt odlingslandskap. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 13. A Varied Agricultural Landscape

"The cultivated landscape is continuing to shrink in area, and many habitats and species have an unfavourable conservation status. The absence of grazing animals in many counties and re-growth of pastures is becoming a more and more common sight. A viable agriculture throughout the entire country is essential if we are to achieve the objective in the long-term. According to several county councils, delay in implementing the rural development programme has resulted in a loss of momentum in the environmental work.

Storslagen fjällmiljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 14. A Magnificent Mountain Landscape

"Physical exploitation, off-road driving, loss of management and a warmer climate have had a major impact, particularly in the southern mountains. Achieving a global increase in temperature limited to 1.5–2.0°C will still result in forestation of bare mountains. Planning and new policy instruments are necessary to accommodate differing land requirements. Initiatives are also necessary to maintain strategic sections of bare mountains from forestation and to maintain management- benefitted natural and cultural environments.ions for a mountain landscape characterised by grazing and appropriate off-road driving.

God bebyggd miljö. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 15. A Good Built Environment

"Progress towards a sustainable built environment represents the biggest challenge. Many municipalities and cities are adopting an increasingly holistic approach to urban development, and focusing on car-free transport such as public transport, cycling and walking. The buildings environmental effects are increasingly considered from a life-cycle perspective.

Ett rikt växt- och djurliv. Bild: Tobias Flygar. 16. A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life

"Species and habitats are at risk of disappearing and ecosystems are becoming impoverished. Alien species continue to increase. Policy instruments are either not in place or are not being applied. Resources must be used with greater care, and natural environments better protected and managed. An increase in allocations for 2016 means it is possible to speed up the work with protected areas and initiatives in the everyday landscape. Sweden must also have an impact at the international level.

Key to symbols

Yes. The environmental quality objective will be achieved with policy instruments already decided on and with measures implemented before 2020.


Close. The environmental quality objective has partly been achieved or could partly be achieved by 2020.


No. The environmental quality objective has not been achieved and cannot be achieved by 2020 with existing and approved instruments and measures.


Positive. The trend in the state of the environment is positive.


Neutral. No clear trend in the state of the environment can be seen.


Negative. The trend in the state of the environment is negative.