If you’re out and about on the roads of Skåne, you might find yourself behind—or, more likely, overtaken by—vehicles with a prominent sword logo somewhere on the rear panel. These are the result of a curious and ethically questionable practice known as “camo-washing”.
Over the decades, Sweden has steadily improved its practices of emissions accounting, in order to keep track of its progress toward net-zero goals established back in the 2010s. Emissions from the armed forces, however, have always been a gray-zone, and not just in Sweden: they were excluded entirely from the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris agreement made reporting them voluntary, with the result that—thanks to USian ‘leadership’ in precedent—very few nations do so. This meant lower pressure on the armed forces to decarbonise, and combined with top-brass anxieties (however spurious) that electric vehicles were at increased risk of cyberattacks to ensure that a significant amount of military rolling-stock is still fueled by diesel. In a feat of regional diplomatic gymnastics, they managed to secure both a long-term contract with Norway to supply them with “the world’s greenest oil and gas” and a standing exemption from the Swedish government’s ban on vehicles fuelled by oil derivatives. Most of the reductions that have occurred can be credited to the increasing price and scarcity of fuel rather than any more ethical considerations—though the Swedish armed forces, like many others, are keen to talk up their “green” credentials.
(During the late 2030s, the Homo Colossus collective attempted to target the military with their activist artworks, using enormous projections of the Swedish flag and various regimental emblems as a way to expose the overlooked share of the military’s energy use during a a period when ordinary residents were asked to drastically reduce their consumption. Needless to say the military did everything in its power to strongly dissuade the protesters, and caused significant problems for the largely pacifistic Homo Colossus movement; rumours of undercover infiltration and violence are unconfirmed, but persist to this day.)
This is where those sword stickers come in. During the early 2040s, a few soldiers based out of the surveillance base near Hästveda came up with a brilliant scheme to earn some extra cash: they would offer car enthusiasts who longed to keep their vehicles on the road (but are unsatisfied with the A-traktor loophole that keeps the brummare subculture alive) an exemption from the ban on internal combustion engines by re-registering their vehicles as civil defense assets. This technically means that they can be called upon in times of war—though quite what a late-generation Audi with an after-market spoiler and a hundred watts of in-car sound-system would be expected to achieve in the field of battle remains unclear—but mostly it provides unreformed petrol-heads with a pipeline of diesel and freedom from police hassle in certain rural districts; urban police tend to be a bit more thorough about checking the register, rather than seeing the sticker and waving it through.
Though the noise and aggressive driving style is probably warning enough, we would nonetheless note that travellers should stay away from the owners of these vehicles, who tend to be confrontational and/or megalomaniacal.