On Wednesday 9 February, Boriana Åberg, moderate member of parliament who sits on the Finance Committee, visited Tempcon’s subsidiary Abbekås Åkeri in Staffanstorp to get an insight into what reality looks like for the hauliers with the sky-high fuel prices we have today as a consequence of the reduction obligation. Also present at the meeting were Christian Hallberg, CEO of Tempcon, Mikael Nilsson, CEO of Abbekås Åkeri and at the same time chairman of Sveriges Åkeriföretag and Liane Ask, regional manager of Sveriges Åkeriföretag Syd.
In the last twelve months, Sweden has seen an increase in the price of diesel by more than 40 percent, which has led to us today having the world’s highest diesel prices. There are several factors that have led to this sharp increase such as higher world market prices, but above all due to the reduction obligation. The reduction obligation is part of the EU’s common goal of, among other things, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, but there is the possibility of national, higher goals. This is something Sweden has used and since 1 January 2022 we have a mixture of biofuels in diesel of 30.5 percent, we have already now, eight years before 2030, largely doubled our involvement compared to the EU:s goal for 2030.
If you cross the bridge to Denmark, you currently refuel with diesel for a price that is about five SEK lower than the Swedish one. What prevents Swedish hauliers from going to Denmark and refueling today are costs for working hours and bridge crossings, but if development continues in Sweden on the paved road, we will soon see a shuttle service across the bridge to refuel diesel.
One consequence of this is that international traffic is no longer refueling in Sweden. You can bring 999 liters of diesel without it being counted as dangerous goods and you get a long way on that. This distorts competition and Swedish companies are less equipped to meet it. Every day, more than 3.200 trucks arrive via the ports of Ystad, Malmö and Trelleborg. In addition, all traffic which crosses the bridge and via the port of Helsingborg. It is estimated that 15-17 thousand man-days are carried out every day in the transport industry by foreign labor.
Another consequence of this is also that it will be cheaper for customers to transport their goods with foreign trailer carriages instead of with domestic cars and trailers. As an example, large quantities of trailers arrive daily at Tempcon’s subsidiary Klimat-Transport in Helsingborg and unload their loads. These are then loaded on domestic cars and trailers for further transport north in the country. Three trailers are replaced by two cars and trailers. That is, one less engine that needs to be run. With the difference that is in the fuel today, it is cheaper for customers to leave the goods on the trailer and drive all three cars all the way. Not particularly environmentally smart but economically advantageous for the customer and it is so far the economy that governs many of these choices.
One problem with Sweden choosing to be so far ahead in terms of the reduction obligation is that there are no commercially viable alternatives today. The electrification of the vehicle fleet with charging infrastructure and more is still several years ahead and we must have a transport solution that makes Sweden work today and until then. At the same time, we do not solve the problem of CO2 emissions with the reduction obligation, even if we reduce them.
The fuel costs for a haulage company like Abbekås are approximately 25-30 percent and with an increase of 40 percent, this becomes very noticeable. Getting compensation for these increases is one of the most important issues ahead for the industry to survive at all. The increased transport costs for industry will eventually land in consumers’ wallets as everything we have in our homes and at our workplaces has at some point been transported on a truck. This will drive inflation, which in combination with increased energy costs will worsen Sweden’s competitiveness overall.
Another important factor in this is that through the high admixture of biofuels, we have become completely dependent on foreign players to gain access to it as we import over 85 percent of all biofuels we use today. The picture that was painted during the discussions prior to the introduction of the reduction obligation that residual products from the forest industry would be used has not been fulfilled.
A reduction of the blending of biofuels to a common EU level would mean a reduced price at the pump of approximately SEK 3 per liter. This is good but not enough as we need to get down to the same level as in Denmark and Germany, for example, from which large parts of the transport inflow to Sweden comes. It is important to also include in this discussion that large resources that were planned to be used for future investments and purchases of newer, more environmentally friendly vehicles, are now instead used to pay the invoices from the fuel companies. The reduction obligation stops the development towards more sustainable transport.
Great focus during the conversation was of course on the extreme fuel prices we have in Sweden today and the consequences these have for AB Sweden and all its residents in the short and long term. At the same time, many other issues were touched upon, such as why the Swedish Transport Agency rejected the idea of introducing EU Directive 2018/645, which makes it possible to drive heavier, electrified vehicles on a B driving license. Issues of unfair competition, longer and not only heavier vehicles as well as the social situation of foreign drivers were also discussed.
What can we expect from a government with Moderaterna at the helm if they win the election this autumn? Åberg is completely convinced that this will be the case and wants to send three things. In addition to the decisions made must be well-founded and lean on facts from reality, a new government must create conditions for fuel prices to be at a level that creates good competitiveness for Sweden and Swedish companies, increased flexibility in the application of driving and rest times and intensified work in terms of removing criminal elements from all industries, not least the haulage industry, and in this way eliminating unhealthy competition from both international and national actors.