Speech by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at inauguration of new HYBRIT pilot plant

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On Monday 31 August 2020, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, together with Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin, inaugurated the new HYBRIT pilot plant for the production of fossil-free sponge iron in Luleå.

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Thank you for having me here today.

Steel: it is in the cars in the carpark, in the cutlery in the kitchen, in jewellery, hip replacements and scalpels. Steel: it reinforces our apartment blocks. Forms our bridges, roofs and trains.

Steel is jobs.

Steel has built Sweden, and steel has built our welfare system.

But steel – or rather the manufacture of steel – also threatens our way of life.

The steel industry is one of the sectors that emits the most carbon dioxide in the world. For every tonne of iron that pours from a blast furnace, more than a tonne of carbon dioxide is also produced. This is the fault of coking coal. And this is what you have decided to remedy.

We are embarking on the biggest technological shift in steel manufacturing in a thousand years.

Today, you are laying the foundations that will enable the Swedish steel industry to be entirely fossil – and carbon dioxide – free in 20 years.

This is ambitious. But it is necessary.

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Friends,

That we are standing here today – in the midst of a pandemic that has brought society’s problems into immediate focus and slammed the brakes on the economy – feels significant.

I believe it is clear that the society the pandemic affected was not perfect.

We must not return to how everything was before, how things were done before.

We must build something better.

And this is what you are doing here.

We all realise that the pandemic will affect Sweden for a long time to come. The Government is now shifting from temporary crisis-response policies to investments to get the wheels of the economy turning and create new jobs. At this time we need hope in the future, and the steelworkers here in Luleå are showing what the path ahead may look like.

Right now we have a historic opportunity to do things that provide jobs here and now – but also hasten the climate transition that everyone realises is necessary. And lay the foundations for new Swedish export successes and jobs in the long run.

Global warming continues regardless of the pandemic.

Climate change remains the most momentous issue for our planet.

Climate change means that we must transition.

Things will change in towns and cities and societies, for businesses and people.

Climate transition must therefore concern social security, the distribution of resources and jobs.

Precisely the things that Sweden has been uniquely good at doing.

And I hope that the HYBRIT Project will show that if – in collaboration and agreement – we make the right investments in the labour market, in education and infrastructure, we can succeed. Politics, academia and the business sector. Together.

From unemployment and climate threats, green jobs with zero emissions can soon grow. Here there is an opportunity to not only export steel without coking coal , but also technology that is globally unique.

In Luleå, you are building something new, something better.

And together we can rebuild Sweden as the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation. Together we can build Sweden out of the crisis.