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ARTICLE9 July 2020

Shared Nordic view of proposed European Climate Law

A key part of the Green Deal is the European Climate Law. At a webinar on 30 June, the four major Nordic organisations for private sector employers presented a new joint position paper: The Climate Law post Covid-19 – the role of industry and business in reaching the objectives of climate action and economic recovery.

Klimatlagen
At the webinar representatives from Nordic companies described how they perceived the EU’s climate ambitions and the proposed Climate Law.Photo: Oskar Kihlborg

The Nordic business federations from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are committed to the EU ambition of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. They also share the view that Europe should continue to play a leading role in climate action and provide solutions beyond European borders. If designed and implemented properly, the European Green Deal presented by the European Commission could be an important instrument for achieving these ambitions.

A key part of the Green Deal is the European Climate Law. At a webinar on 30 June, the four major Nordic organisations for private sector employers presented a new joint position paper: The Climate Law post Covid-19 – the role of industry and business in reaching the objectives of climate action and economic recovery.

The Climate Law will be crucial to achieving the European Commission’s climate-neutral ambitions. Therefore, the Nordic business community welcome the European Climate Law as an important instrument, one that underlines the EU’s determination to deliver on its ambitious climate agenda. Such a law will create predictability and could therefore increase the willingness of European companies to invest. However, this would require a well-functioning regulatory framework that accounts for international competition.

While policies set the course and define the climate-neutral ambitions, the private sector will largely be responsible for delivering the technologies, solutions, products and innovations that are needed to achieve such high goals. This is also key to the success of the European Green Deal. In the position paper, the business Nordic organisations formulated a number of recommendations that the policy makers should consider in order to make the Climate Law an effective instrument for climate action.

At the webinar, where the position paper was presented, representatives from the Nordic employers organisations and Nordic companies described how they perceived the EU’s climate ambitions and the proposed Climate Law. According to Ingrid Reumert from construction company Velux, economic growth and job creation are back on the agenda and will become more important than for a long time after the coronavirus crisis.

“The construction industry holds a key role in the green transformation – but also for a healthier society, which I believe will be noticeable after COVID-19. The Green Deal will be a key tool for growth. After COVID-19, we will also need to overcome the barriers to a green transformation and be more transparent about the emissions generated by the industry.”

The construction industry is working hard to reduce its environmental impact by, for example, improving energy efficiency and re-using materials.

“One of the big questions is how we can adopt a life-cycle perspective – from the construction of a building, to when it is renovated or demolished. To achieve our emission targets, the gap between the renovations that are performed and the renovations that need to be carried out every year needs to be significantly reduced. We have to find a balance between emissions, costs and living standards,” said Ingrid Reumert.

Hege Skryseth is the CEO of Kongsberg Digital, a company in the maritime sector. She described her industry as fairly conservative and probably not a digital frontrunner. And this was actually one of the areas where she saw great potential for combating climate change.

“I don’t doubt for a second that technological developments will be crucial to a greener industry. We see major opportunities, for example, for electrification of the shipping fleet and for having a number of autonomous ships. There are many possibilities here for reducing emissions in the maritime sector.

Skryseth, whose company operates globally, sees major differences in efforts to combat climate change.

“I can see many new initiatives in the move towards ‘smart’ deliveries – especially from China – and how the transport industry is becoming less dependent on fossil fuels. There are some regions around the world with less focus on climate change, even if industry is accepting more and more responsibility. The EU can make a contribution here through coordination, public investments in technology and infrastructure, which is something the industry has been requesting.”

Carita Ollikainen, from Valmet Corporation, said there are statements and articles in the EU’s climate policy that are difficult to interpret and that are making it difficult for both the EU and others to work towards climate neutrality.

“We also think that the EU is a bit too soft in some areas. We believe we can produce more energy with lower emissions, but unless there is a market and demand for the technology for negative emissions, we won’t be able to go down that path. In addition, the ambitions for how much waste can be recycled should be significantly raised, because there are huge amounts of energy and environmental gains to be realised here.”

Ollikainen, whose company is highly committed to sustainability, welcomes the Green Deal and the proposed Climate Law. The current regulations are so unclear that it is very difficult for her company to operate in the single market with some of their products.

“The new law could help to set a clear target for both us and our customers for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. But most of all, we need a better law that works for both the single market and outside the EU. We hope this law can contribute to that.”

The webinar moderator was Anders Ladefoged, Head of European Policy at the Confederation of Danish Industry. He summarised by saying something that the entire Nordic business sector supports:

“The business community has the will and the technology, but the EU has to set the right rules and set ambitious goals!”

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