Guest blog by Herman Anderson, local authority politician in the city of Lidköping, SwedenScreen Shot 2015-04-28 at 08.22.05

Not seeing clear results in your Fossil Free campaign can be frustrating. Sometimes it feels like neither universities nor municipalities are ever going to change their ways. Whenever that feeling overwhelms you, it’s time to have a look at the victories of the divestment movement in Sweden so far. Recently, the city of Lidköping decided to sell their shares of 4,4 million Swedish kronor in a Finnish oil company along with Fortum shares valued 15,7 million Swedish kronor (SEK). This wouldn’t have been possible if it not for all the successful Fossil Free campaigns throughout Sweden and the rest of the world.

Everything started the winter of 2014, when I together with my party turned in a proposal to the city council – suggesting that the municipality should divest their capital from fossil fuel companies. The response to the proposal came as early as at the end of that very summer. It stated that the process of revising the investment policy would be extended towards the beginning of the next mandate period. In the process they would investigate the possibility of divesting. A revision of the investment policy is normally a routine procedure, a few small adjustments are made to keep the policy updated.

But this time it was different, since the issue of divestment has received so much attention in the media and in the political debate.

There is no active Fossil Free campaign as such in Lidköping. However, campaigns such as the ones in Göteborg and at Lund University are having an influence – raising the issue of divestment not only with the target of their own campaigns, but in the whole country. Activities like Global Divestment Day have been highlighted, even in Lidköping. This put pressure on the municipality to take the environmental effects of their invested capital seriously.

The municipality of Lidköping have now started to make proper investigations of how their invested capital is affecting the environment. The question of how to ensure that the investment policy is being enforced in reality has also been raised. Attention has been shifted from a narrow environmental perspective, towards a wider sustainability perspective. The chief economist of the municipality was sent on a field trip to both Örebro and Göteborg [note: 2 Swedish cities with fossil fuel free investments] to look at how they work with this issue. I want to emphasise that none of this would have happened if it weren’t for the Fossil Free campaign.

I wish I could announce to you all that the city of Lidköping have followed through and fully divested all their capital. But this is not the case. The handbrake was pulled in the last minute, and the final result is that the municipality aspire to avoid investments in coal, gas and oil just as much as they find possible. It was also decided that the municipality twice a year will receive a report of how much of their capital is invested in coal, gas and oil.

1What differences are we expecting this to make? Well, the city has among other things divested its direct holdings in fossil fuel companies, therewith selling shares of 4,4 million kronor (SEK) in the Finnish oil company Neste along with shares of 15,7 million kronor (SEK) in Swedish Fortum. The municipality of Lidköping has also gone from being a completely passive investor to now actively request fossil fuel free investment funds – and there is large potential to be calling for larger changes ahead.2

Even if this city didn’t go all the way, let’s regard it a partial victory and a success. The whole movement should be proud of this achievement – we did it together.

– Herman Andersson

Are you a Swedish politician interested in the issue of divestment, who has not yet made contact with us? Send us an email at Olivia (a)