What to wear? Dressing for the seasons in Skåne

If you’ve not been to Skåne before, you may be wondering what you need to pack, clothes-wise. The answer? “It depends…”

Please don’t turn to us for advice on style; the Rough Planet team are predominantly writers, and—with a few notable exceptions—that’s not a demographic known for dressing sharp.

But dressing practical? That we understand! So here are a few pointers for new arrivals wondering how to deal with the weather.

Autumn and winter? Sweaters and socks

For those of you traveling from warmer climes, do pack warm clothes! Or, if you don’t own any—or you’re travelling light to keep your luggage costs low—make sure to visit one of the many swap-shops, where warm stuff is always available, provided you’re not too fussy about how it looks. In autumn and winter, the thermostat in most Skånian homes doesn’t exceed 19 degrees, due to longstanding energy efficiency measures to meet the lowered capacity of a decarbonized heating system (see below). The flexible electricity grid also means that floor heating and heat pumps might be turned off temporarily, so it’s wise to have a pair of slippers, too.

As for outdoor temperatures… well, we’re not the type to gamble or make predictions. While snow is increasingly rare in Skåne, particularly in the south, the seasons are still very capable of surprising us, as they did in the “Long Cold” of the 2030s… and while the winters are warmer on averagethan they once were, they’re sure as hell not T-shirt weather. Having one really good winter coat is probably the essential thing; scarves, hats and gloves are easy enough to acquire locally, whether from the swap-shops or from local upcycle-artisans (depending on your budget).

Spring and summer? Suncream and sunglasses

During the warmer months, you probably won’t need much advice. You should wear as much as you feel you need to, basically—unless you end up at one of the many naturist/nudist locales, where it really isn’t good form to not go with the flow, so to speak. Hats are fine, of course, but otherwise it should all come off… and keep your eyes to yourself!

Nudists are not the only ones who should think seriously about protecting their skin, though. While baking oneself to a deep brown is a Skånian summer pastime of long standing, the sun is stronger than it was, and skin cancer is a serious risk, even for those who stick to shorts and T-shirts. Biodegradable creams and oils are readily available from pharmacies, and some general stores as well: so use them! And a decent pair of sunglasses will save your eyesight in your older years, too…

Comfort versus carbon: some notes on Skåne’s heating systems

The Swedish district heating system was once heralded as a climate-friendly pioneer. Following the energy crisis in the early 70s, the country started to ween itself off heating oil with a turn towards bio-fuels, waste incineration, and recovered heat from industrial processes. And sure, it was a definite improvement—but its vulnerabilities were blatantly obvious, at least in hindsight. If we want to recycle all materials, can we really incinerate some of them for heat? And if we need to preserve forests for species of all kinds, can we with good conscience use bio-based fuels?

Skånian cities addressed this dilemma differently. Hässleholm, being surrounded by both forests and forestry lobbyists, doubled down on using forest waste for its heating. They recently constructed a system to capture the CO2 it emits and send it to Norway for deep-water storage—it was painted a rather look-at-me lime green, so you won’t miss it if you visit the heating plant. For a long time, the city claimed that its combustion was carbon neutral, that trees regrew to capture the same amount of CO2 they emitted when burned. The forest fires of the Dirty Thirties, however, revealed this to be a mirage, causing the EU to disconnect sequestration from emissions in its accounts. 

Malmö, on the other hand, looked to the sun: the kommun mandated that solar heating be installed at the same rate as solar panels on the city’s roofs. This was combined with the construction of vast underground storage pools where the heat could be stored during hot summer months and used during the colder months. Locals will freely admit that the winters of 32-35 were rough—as they were for the whole country—but that was before the storage pools came online, and many older apartments still leaked heat like colanders. But in the years since then, through a combination of a lower baseline temperature in the heating grid, increased waste heat from the Öresund Metro, and major insulation retrofitting campaigns, Malmö has managed to create a heating system free from combustion of which they are justly proud (and which many other municipalities are somewhat sick of hearing about).

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