Don't extinguish my fire-Understanding public resistance to a Swedish policy aimed at reducing particle emissions by phasing out old wood stoves
Journal article, 2022

Wood stoves emit particulate matter when used for domestic heating. Consequently, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning in Sweden enforced a prohibition of new installations of old wood stoves in 2017 to protect the public health. The prohibition caused a public backlash that organized itself as a "wood stove rising", eventually leading to a cancellation of the new legislation in 2019. We performed comprehensive interviews with 11 signatories of the original appeal to analyze the underlying motives for combating the implementation of this pro-environmental energy policy. We find that domestic heating through fire-making is an age-old human behavior that is deeply connected to several social and emotional human needs, but also to survival in remote areas with cold climate. The likelihood of policy observance and acceptance is higher if the policy is not perceived as being in direct conflict with these needs: basic emotion regulation, sensations of tradition and connection to other people, and means of crisis management for the individual. We also find that the protesters acted out of a sustainability perspective, albeit one where the continued use of functional devices was valued more than the perceived wear-and-tear of replacing outdated technology.

Emission regulation

Pro-environmental legislation

Domestic heating

Public acceptance

Public backlash

Emotional motives


Anna Sahlberg

University of Gothenburg

Bodil S. A. Karlsson

University of Gothenburg

Jonas Sjöblom

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Combustion and Propulsion Systems

Henrik Ström

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Fluid Dynamics

Energy Policy

0301-4215 (ISSN)

Vol. 167 113017

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Public Administration Studies

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified



More information

Latest update