I AM a representative of the former British Empire and the current Commonwealth of Nations; I am the descendant of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and the son of an RAF pilot. I did
not graduate with First Class honours from Cambridge University and since then have not entered the Foreign Office’s prestigious diplomatic corps.
‘The Northern Plights’ documents my assessment of Sweden for the possibility of any future conquests which the British Government’s War Cabinet is
At last some respite and a chance to don my civvies and leave the city of Malmö. I head to the coastal town of Ystad, but before the Baltic Sea spray has washed off the suburban grime the electronic synthesised opening strains of the National Anthem sound an incoming text message. Damn and blast. I am being sent back to Malmö to destroy the myth that the Swedes give a flying fir cone about
Britain’s our planet.
It frustrates me that I have been instructed to prove the Swedes are the worst at something they are considered the best at – being green – on my weekend off. Perhaps that is why I have been sent to Malmö – a city still stained black from its industrial past, surely if I can prove that Sweden is as environmentally friendly as an oil slick then this city would be the place to do it.
In its defence, Malmö, at its heart, is pretty, baroquey, gothicy and all the other pretentious superlatives you pick up while eavesdropping someone else’s tour guide around any gem of a European city. But is Malmö really a gem? Beyond that heart lies an urban sprawl in a perpetual state of modernisation with all the lumbering cranes and dug up roads that requires, one may muse to one’s self ‘it’ll look nice…when it’s finished.’
It doesn’t look like a gem and it doesn’t look green.
But it is. It is in fact an emerald, the greenest of all gems.
Under every Swede’s IKEA-molded sink you will find a veritable smörgåsbord of recycling bags and in every Swedish block of flat’s cellar/yard/out-house you will find corresponding recycling bins. The Swedes recycle ‘the lot’ and ‘a lot’ of it; in fact, if it is not labelled ‘Chernobyl Fallout’ you’ll probably find a recycling bin for it – in total, 34% of all household rubbish is used as something else by someone else at some point.
The city is blighted with its heavy industrial ship-building history; the harbour was one of the largest in the world and set more boats afloat than Helen of Troy, but what now the galvanised hull of the market has rusted and fallen out? The harbour looks to fester like a decaying spectre of global-warming industry past. Would it be here I found oil drums bobbing in the coastal waters, or chemical paints dribbling into the lapping waves? I felt positive; there was still a small hive of industry, a company floating in the face of environmental legislation, perhaps?
No. As it turns out the harbour is now used to make, of all cursed things, turbines for wind farms. DRATS. And then, holding a telescope aloft to my monocled eye, I see it, parked out in the midst of the choppy waters, flapping its eco-friendly arms in my distinguished vicinity, the world’s third largest wind farm – Lillgrund.
From here on it was just blow after blow after blow, and that was not the energy-giving Arctic wind, that is my mission. Malmö is Sweden’s first ever Fair Trade City..blah, blah, blah..set to be carbon neutral by 2030 blah blah blah…the list is endless, and no doubt written on recycled paper.
While I am reluctant to do so, I think I will have to concede; the Swedes may have won this battle, but they will not win the war. I cannot admit defeat and send this Dispatch though, so instead I just text the Foreign Office back:
BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: Recycle this Dispatch and send it to you nearest and dearest – the planet will thank you for it.