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Swedish report Swedish report
by Euro Reporter
2010-06-18 07:20:59
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Sweden backs whale hunt plan

Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren has joined forces with Denmark in seeking a compromise that would allow the world's foremost whaling nations Japan, Norway and Iceland to conduct legal hunts for the first time in 24 years, Reuters reports.

Most EU states remain firmly opposed to any compromise solution that would permit the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to set quotas. The IWC will rule on the matter at a summit meeting in Morocco later this month.  With whale hunting countries continuing to hunt despite the ban, Carlgren believes a regulated quota system would lead to fewer whale deaths.  "We think there is a window of opportunity to get Japan, Norway and Iceland into an international agreement. Today we have strong rules on paper, but in reality no control," the minister told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg.

But WWF secretary general Lasse Gustafsson was quick to criticize the minister’s line of reasoning.  “We can’t really understand the logic. We don’t see this as an area in which there should be political compromises,” he told news agency TT.  Gustavsson drew parallels with the government’s culling strategy for Sweden’s wolf population. He argued there was nothing to suggest that limited hunting quotas would benefit the whale population.  “We don’t see that there’s any reason to change the current principle.”


New nuclear reactors

The centre-right government announced in February 2009 that it was reversing a decision to phase out nuclear power as part of an ambitious new climate programme. The country had voted in a 1980 non-binding referendum to phase out its 12 reactors by 2010, a target which was later abandoned by officials. Since 1999, two of the reactors have been closed. The 10 remaining reactors, at three power stations, account for about half of Sweden's electricity production. The measure was backed by the four parties in the coalition government, including the Centre Party which traditionally has been opposed to nuclear power.

However, there was heated debate in the house ahead of the vote and at least two Centre Party members of parliament have said they would" follow the voice of conscience" and vote against the measure. The three main left-leaning opposition parties were set to vote against the proposal, with Green Party spokeswoman Maria Wetterstrand scolding the Centre Party for siding with its coalition partners. Voting in favour of the proposal, she said, "could mean Sweden will be making itself dependent on nuclear power for 100 more years and there will be 100,000 years of consequences for future generations who will have to take care of the waste," she said during the parliamentary debate.

Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, of the Centre Party, meanwhile defended the government's energy proposal. "It is a myth that nuclear power is forcing out renewable energies. (Renewables) have won the game. Why then exclude nuclear from the plan?" he asked. Carlgren also stressed voters would be able to express themselves on the new energy plan, which is set to take effect at the beginning of next year, in the upcoming September 19 elections. The government's climate programme stipulates that by 2020 renewable energy should comprise 50 percent of all energy produced, for the Swedish car fleet to be independent of fossil fuels 10 years later and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In addition to the replacement of aging nuclear reactors, parliament was also debating a new regulation handing reactor owners unlimited damage liability in case of an accident. The parliamentary vote came as prosecutor Magnus Berggren asked a court in Uppsala, north of Stockholm, to sentence most of the 29 activists arrested Monday for breaking into the Forsmark nuclear power plant to fines and suspended prison sentences. The activists, dressed up as brightly coloured renewable energy sources wind, water and sun, were part of a Greenpeace demonstration calling on parliamentarians to vote against the nuclear proposal.


Finishing touches put on Daniel and Victoria's big day

In just a few short days Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling will finally say "I do".  Friend or foe of the Royal Wedding, there is no way of missing that something big is about to take place in Stockholm. From celebrations in the city centre to buildings decorated with banners and portraits of the Crown Princess Couple - wedding fever has hit the Swedish capital.  Though interest for hotel rooms in the city has not meet previous expectations, some 200,000 people are expected to line the streets on June 19 and according to the Swedish Trade Federation the event could bring up to 2.5 billion kronor in extra revenue.

The Royal Wedding will be the grand finale to months of intense media coverage, speculation, PR and marketing campaigns - and debates about the monarchy. The 19th of June will also be the culmination of months of preparation, and coordination, by thousands of participants. The main organizer of all this, the Swedish Royal Court, has pumped resources and thousands of man hours into planning the wedding and the other events leading up to it.  Under the leadership of wedding coordinator Håkan Pettersson, the entire organization has been involved. Everyone from the Royal Family’s household offices, to the press and information department, to the Royal Mews and the Ceremonial Household has been busy getting ready for the big day. The Royal Collections have also occupied with getting the Royal Palace into tip-top shape. No detail is too minute.

"The Palace is like an anthill - so many people are busy doing everything from laying the tables to preparing the flowers," is how Palace spokeswoman Nina Eldh put it on Thursday. Helping the Royal Court with many of the practicalities surrounding the Royal Wedding have been Sweden’s government offices, in particular the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Ministry will be helping the some 2,300 accredited journalists who will be covering the event, of which 700 are foreign.  The City of Stockholm, Sweden’s military forces as well as the police are also very involved. Medical teams, both for wedding guests and onlookers on the streets, will also be in place. It is a giant undertaking not seen since King Carl XVI Gustaf married Silvia Renate Sommerlath in 1976. The total cost of the Royal Wedding is estimated to be some 20 million Swedish Kronor, approximately $2.5 million. The Swedish Government will be picking up half the tab, while the remaining sum will be paid by the King.

The planning of the Royal Wedding has also involved, and benefited, many private companies. Amongst others an agency was brought in to create a visual profile for the Royal Wedding. The purpose was to give the event a unified look. This visual profile also inspired the official products currently on sale. Merchandise from the official Royal Wedding series, which benefits the Crown Princess Couple’s new foundation, can be seen all around the country. More than 15 companies have produced products ranging from cakes to porcelain, to glass and chocolate.

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