Vattenfall – nominated for branding problems as solutions

Swedish energy company Vattenfall is a master of spin when it comes to climate change, portraying itself as a climate champion while lobbying to continue business as usual, using coal, nuclear power, and pseudo-solutions such as agrofuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

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The Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall is the fourth biggest producer of electricity in Europe. It aims to be “Number One for the Environment” and in 2008 launched a high profile Climate Tour1 with thousands of orange figures urging the public to sign a manifesto: “Your signature can curb climate change”

But Vattenfall’s manifesto demands won’t avert the threat of climate change. They are designed to boost Vattenfall’s profits, by securing a global market and price for CO2 emissions and more support for what they call “climate friendly technologies”, such as carbon capture and storage and nuclear power.

These same demands are repeated through “Combat Climate Change” (established by Vattenfall and one of the convenors of the Copenhagen Business Summit). The company is also lobbying for market-based solutions through the UN Global Compact’s “Caring for Climate” initiative, and through the World Economic Forum’s Climate Change initiative - even though the evidence so far shows that carbon markets do not work.

Vattenfall plans to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, capturing CO2 and storing it underground, to clean up its coal-fired power stations. Coal is one of the dirtiest sources of energy but Vattenfall uses coal in 20 power plants across Europe and wants to build more. According to the International Energy Agency (a champion of CCS) the technology is unlikely to be commercially viable until after 2020 - too late to prevent dangerous climate change.

Vattenfall has successfully lobbied for political and financial support for CCS in Europe and the company is also actively lobbying for nuclear power - despite leaks at its generators in Germany and Sweden.

One of Vattenfall’s strategies to decrease emissions is to burn coal with biomass, mainly from wood pellets and straw, continuing demand for coal and increasing pressure on forest resources. Vattenfall also burns peat causing huge environmental damage. Vattenfall claims it will be “climate neutral” by 2050 but emitted 82.5 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008 - more than its home country which emitted 67 million tonnes (2005).



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