Business and politics hand in hand to solve environmental challenges

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The world and humanity are facing some of our greatest challenges. More people are using more natural resources. Fish stocks are running the risk of extinction, freshwater resources are far from adequate, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing and biodiversity is becoming depleted. Never before has a creature been able to affect our planet to the extent humanity does today. All of this constitutes major challenges - but there is hope for our future. And many solutions can be found within the business community.

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September 26 The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise arranged an event around these issues, a screening of No Time To Lose, followed by a discussion on the same topic with Maria Sunér Fleming (Head of Energy & Environment, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise) and Milan Elkerbout (CEPS Energy & Climate House). The event was opened by Swedish Ambassador Åsa Webber.

No time To Lose shows the complexity of the problems facing us and the solutions they call for. Who will lead the work that needs to be done? What actions will provide the best results? And how will we accomplish constructive international agreements on environmental issues?

Since no one knows what the future will bring, politics, science and business will have to cooperate.

  • Since the 1970s we have seen reductions of emissions in almost all areas, partly due to the first environmental laws and the following debate. Sweden has benefited from being a small country where meeting and cooperation has been relatively easy. The local environmental organisations were progressive, said Nicklas Skår, environmental lawyer at The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and the initiator of the film.

The film No Time To Lose is stressing the point of businesses being a crucial part in solving the environmental issues, not only by creating innovation but also by funding large parts of science and research. But is there an understanding of the role business are playing in tackling environmental issues?

  • There is a need for balance between politics, science and business, Maria Sunér Fleming said. We need to highlight what businesses are doing to solve the problems, but we also need rules and regulations that supports innovation – not creating a further burden on businesses. In the beginning there is research and entrepreneurship, but when we get to finished products there is a need for certain rules and standards. They must not be too detailed, but rather show a desired direction and target. This is what the EU should be working on.

The focus on temperature in, for example, the Paris Climate Change Agreement is too narrow, Milan Elkerbout said. There are other and better ways to analyse the stress we are causing our planet to. Therefore we need a change of focus from climate change to climate policy.

  • Yes, it is true that climate and environmental issues are connected to several different political areas, and of course this should be brought up in the debate. However, if all and every challenge and problems are to be linked – there will be no possibility to go forward. It is important to have a goal, like 2050, but it is also important to see what can actually enable change.

The panel concluded the discussion by talking about trust, in the context of making cooperation between the different stakeholders more constructive. An important point, both the panellist and the audience agreed.

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