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Nordic business calls for leadership on climate change

The Nordic business community urges policy-makers to formulate more ambitious climate policies together with businesses and civil society. This way, we can reach a fossil free society faster, catalyze global climate action and at the same time improve competitiveness of the Nordic Region. Nordic companies believe that our region can boost global climate efforts as a show-case for climate solutions. This is the conclusion of a new report, based on interviews with CEOs, presidents and other executives of some of the most significant companies of the five Nordic countries.

The Nordic business community was quick to identify climate action as a competitive advantage and that the synergies between government leadership and innovation could strengthen competitiveness. Environmental regulation has been beneficial for many companies and it is time to scale up the efforts. Companies are able to adopt more aggressive goals if policies lead the way and businesses might be able to reach global goals faster than anticipated. More than 50 percent of the interviewed companies say they could set more ambitious targets than today if policies go in the right direction. Three out of four can reach zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and half of those say this can happen before 2050. Many Nordic companies look at climate investment as a necessity that will strengthen their position in the global market and secure long-term survival.

'Nordic businesses on climate transition, competitiveness and growth' report

‘Nordic businesses on climate transition, competitiveness and growth’ report. Credit: Hagainitiativet

Next week the ministers of climate and environment from the Nordic countries will gather in Stockholm under the Swedish chairmanship in the Nordic Council of Ministers. The business community, represented by the Haga Initiative, Norway203040, Fossil Free Sweden, Icelandic New Energy and Finnish Climate Leadership Coalition, will hand over the newly produced report Nordic businesses on climate transition, competitiveness and growth to the environment ministers of the five countries. The aim is to provide politicians with an insight into how the Nordic business community can contribute to a faster transition to a low carbon society with strengthened Nordic competitiveness. The report is based on interviews with 38 Nordic companies. Together they represent more than half a million employees around the world and revenues equivalent to 17 percent of the Nordic countries’ GDP.

Nordic contribution to the Paris Agreement

One of the conclusions from the report is that the Nordic region can play an important role in contributing to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement. The CEOs in the report are clear that the Nordics can contribute by:

  • Showing global leadership
  • Being a role-model and show-case
  • Promoting cooperation between countries
  • Spreading innovations
  • Exporting solutions

When looking at the key to success – the result is clear. Long-term predictable regulations have enabled companies to reduce their emissions. The fact that the Nordic region has great access to renewable energy and a high level of innovation also plays an important role. The main reasons for why the companies say climate efforts boost competitiveness are:

  • New business opportunities are created
  • Energy and resource efficiency reduces costs
  • Employer branding is strengthened, and employees are more satisfied
  • Increased customer demand leads to increased sales
  • Environmental requirements are included in public procurement

Summarizing the findings from the interviews, it is clear that climate change and the transition to a greener economy is top of mind of CEOs, chairs and top-level management in Nordic companies. There is also a strong commitment from leading Nordic export companies to reduce both their own emissions and be part of the global solution to climate change. All companies see a connection between GHG emission reductions and profitability and com­petitiveness. Therefore, it is not surprising that the companies welcome higher targets for speeding up the climate transition.

Many company leaders believe that the Nordic region can play a more important role internationally, to boost global climate efforts. Talking with one voice, the Nordics are capable of challenging the European Union to adapt more ambitious climate policies, push for higher ambitions and put the right price on externalities. This is not only good for the climate, but also for businesses and Nordic competitiveness.

Four clear strategies

Reducing climate impact is the biggest business opportunity of our time. We, business networks from the Nordics, see four clear strategies that can strengthen Nordic businesses and contribute to reaching the Paris Agreement. We urge ministers in the Nordic countries to start collaborating to help companies in the frontline by:

  • Setting goals for citizen carbon footprint that would steer consumers towards better choices, and push companies to be more responsible
  • Making all public procurement fossil free to boost the market for smart solutions and benefit companies that lead the transformation
  • Creating common Nordic standards to create a permanent world fair for sustainable solutions
  • Government risk-sharing through a public investment bank that can put financial strength behind promising climate solutions and take new ideas to market quicker

In order to reap the benefits of the biggest business opportunity of our time, the Nor­dics must be on the frontline and create solutions before they become global main­stream. This is a unique business opportunity since we know that the demand for new solutions will be there. Currently, the world is not on track to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. After conversations with some of the top corporate executives in the Nordic region, we are convinced that the Nordics can lead the way and make the world move faster towards a green economy.

Nina Ekelund, Executive Director, Haga Initiative
Svante Axelsson, National Coordinator, Fossil Free Sweden
Jouni Keronen, Executive Director, Climate Leadership Coalition
Dagfrid Forberg, Deputy director ZERO/ Secretariat Norway 203040
Anna Margrét Kornelíusdóttir, Project Manager, Icelandic New Energy


DNV GL is a partner of the Norway 203040 business-led climate initiative. Learn more. 

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