Strengthening the Municipal Energy Planning – Integration into Comprehensive Planning, Performance of Impact Assessment and Inclusion of National Environmental Objectives

Sammanfattning: The global climate is changing rapidly, which pronounces the need for transforming the energy system. The Swedish municipalities have been identified as key actors in Sweden’s decarbonisation due to their far-reaching responsibilities, which encompass energy planning. The municipalities are required to have a Municipal Energy Plan (MEP) regarding the provision of energy, but have increasingly shown climate awareness. Further, the municipalities are responsible also for the spatial planning, and increased climate efforts will largely be dependent on how this planning is conducted. However, the energy system also affects various other environmental impacts. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) can aid to take these impacts and associated National Environmental Quality Objectives (NEQOs) into account, which is necessary in order to avoid that other negative environmental impacts occur due to a decarbonisation and that synergies between NEQOs instead could be utilised. Thus, this thesis aims to examine current municipal energy planning practice and the integration of energy and climate targets into comprehensive planning (Paper I), as well as to explore the performance of SEA and the consideration of NEQOs in municipal energy planning (Paper II). Further, suggestions for strengthening the practice is developed (Paper I and II).To achieve the aims, a document analysis, statistical analyses, thematic analyses and an interview study has been employed. This thesis shows that the Act on Municipal Energy Planning is not followed and that the municipalities proactively focuses on climate change mitigation instead. Moreover, a link between MEPs and Comprehensive Plans is seen regarding energy and climate-related targets, and a continuous energy planning can thus be one way of achieving a spatial planning in line with the climate objectives. SEA is seldom performed despite legal requirements, due to a deficient screening practice. However, when performed, SEA can increase the consideration of NEQOs, particularly those in which negative environmental impacts of climate efforts can occur. The consideration of NEQOs could thus help enhance synergies between a decarbonisation and other NEQOs, which could mobilise support for the MEP and aid its implementation.