In Brief

Sweden to be world's first 'fossil fuel-free state'

More than half of country's energy now comes from renewable sources, in contrast to the UK's 5.7 per cent

Sweden appears to making good on its commitment to phase out fossil fuels and become the first country in the world to derive all of its energy from renewable sources.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made the pledge in a speech to the UN last year, in which he said Sweden would work towards becoming "one of the first fossil fuel-free welfare state ".

According to new data from Eurostat and the Renewable Energy Directive, 51.1 per cent of Sweden's energy needs were met by renewables between 2013 and 2014.

Many European countries are building up renewable energy capacity "in order to reduce their carbon emissions and boost supply security", says The Independent. This will also be necessary to meet December's pledge by international leaders to limit global temperature rises to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Scandinavian and other northern European states are leading the way in the latest data, not least because their wind farms benefit from gustier conditions.

Last year, in what The Independent referred to as an "unusually windy July", Denmark's wind farms supplied 140 per cent of the country's electricity needs. Overall, the Danish government now reckons it produces as much as 40 per cent of its energy from wind alone, an achievement which was hailed as "the key to stop global warming".

Last Sunday, the German government announced that clean energy sources had supplied almost all the country's power for 24 hours for the first time, while last week, Portugal hit "a significant milestone in its bid to become entirely reliant on renewable energy sources by running for four days without using any fossil fuels".

The UK, by contrast, lags far behind, generating just 5.7 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, despite having among the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world.

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