Trump cannot kill climate hope

NEWS Published

As the USA now plans to exit the Paris Climate agreement, the EU and Sweden can have the greatest impact by demonstrating that combining competitiveness and high levels of prosperity with continuing to reduce climate emissions is possible. The entrepreneurial sector will drive climate issues forward, more than policy makers. Technical innovation is advancing quickly in many fields, reducing costs for new technology. Even US President Donald Trump cannot change these facts despite his misguided passion for coal, writes Maria Sunér Fleming, Head of Energy and Climate Policy at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Mr. Trump recently issued notice that the USA is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was ratified in 2016. The US thereby joins the two only other countries – Syria and Nicaragua – who have chosen to not ratify the agreement. But, Mr. Trump included in his notice that he intended to ‘renegotiate’ the agreement for the purpose of rejoining, or to create an entirely new agreement that is better than the Paris Agreement. And, by ‘better’, Mr. Trump claims he can make the agreement better for the US, which in his view is currently detrimental to American interests.

Having followed the process of building the current Paris agreement, I question Mr. Trump’ statements. The first observation is to note that the process itself was long and complicated, so any belief that an entirely new agreement can be easily negotiated is simply naive. Secondly, the agreement, as is, has a built-in flexibility with its intentionally non-binding national commitments and lack of sanctions. These qualities were, in fact, a basic prerequisite for agreement and were necessary to gain acceptance from so many countries. Instead, the agreement builds on voluntary commitments by each country as to how much they would reduce GHG emissions – based on their local conditions. This would naturally be monitored, but the lack of sanctions leaves the agreement with only the possibility to “name and shame” those countries that fail to keep promises made.

The national commitments the USA had made were based on the ‘Clean Power Plan’ developed under former US president, Barack Obama, which Mr. Trump had already reversed. In other words, Mr. Trump has already cancelled the voluntary commitments of his predecessor within the framework of the Paris Agreement. The step of ‘leaving’ the climate agreement is therefore merely symbolic. As well, many states and businesses in the US have declared their intention to continue working to reduce climate emissions regardless of any national program.

But the important consideration is that the actions of Mr. Trump do not start a chain reaction where more countries exit the Paris Agreement, or simply reduce the level of their ambitions. So far, most international reactions, including from China and Russia, have indicated that countries are not being influenced by the actions of the current US president. The EU has clearly declared their intention to continue with their stated commitments and they hope the US will remain alone in leaving the agreement.

Clearly, climate policy must include cost efficiency and international competitiveness components. Being able to create the greatest climate benefits for the money invested is central to meeting the climate challenges and important providing a good example, especially now with the US failing to contribute. The EU and Sweden can have the greatest impact by showing that combining competitiveness with high levels of prosperity while continuing to reduce climate emissions is possible. The recent action of the US government highlights the importance of ensuring that the review of the EU Emissions Trading System does not lead to restricting global competitiveness of EU businesses, especially in relation to their American counterparts. This would have a negative impact for both economic development and the climate. It is equally important for Sweden to use policy instruments that have real impact rather than being merely symbolic. An example of such a symbolic climate measure is the Swedish Air Travel Tax, which has no linkage to driving innovation or transitioning to more climate-smart solutions.

But, is there no hope for the climate without US participation? I certainly don’t think so.

Technical innovation is advancing quickly in many fields, reducing costs for new technology. In electrical power generation, wind power is currently among the cheapest technologies available. And Mr, Trump’s mania for coal can be overcome. In the transport sector as well, technical developments are very positive, where electric drive and battery costs are swiftly declining and expected to soon be competitive with fossil-fuel technologies. This is where the enterprise sector has a clear role in climate efforts – where development and innovation to make climate-smart solutions competitive and attractive in global markets. The commitment and innovation of the entrepreneurial sector will continue to drive climate issues forward more than public policy. As is often pointed out, the stone age didn’t end due to a shortage of stone, but rather it was smarter more useful solutions that gained ascendency.


NEWS Published:

Shared Nordic view of proposed European Climate Law

EU 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.
NEWS Published:

GDPR: More support for companies but no legislative changes

COMMENT Every four years, the European Commission evaluates the Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The first report states that Europe needs the acquis to be applied uniformly. This will help smaller companies and facilitate international data exchange.
NEWS Published:

"The legislative proposal sets out what pace the EU should adopt in its climate work"

EU In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law. Therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland (S, S&D) some questions.
NEWS Published:

"Other countries can not take advantage of our ambitious climate work"

EU In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law. Therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd (M, EPP) some questions.
NEWS Published:

Swedish Enterprise is contributing to EU:s data strategy

COMMENT Work is currently underway on the EU's data strategy, looking at how best to utilise data within the internal market. Swedish Enterprise is contributing to this work, among other things, by highlighting the needs and desires of the business sector, and has recently responded to a consultation on the EU Commission's ongoing work, writes Carola Ekblad, Digital policy.
NEWS Published:

An ambitious circular economy action plan from the European Commission

COMMENT In recent years, the European Commission has focused heavily on the circular economy in achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The Swedish business community wants to take a driving role in development and to contribute constructively to the work, writes Jenny Svärd.
NEWS Published:

"The Green Deal steer the economy towards a sustainable society"

EU The Swedish MEP Fredrik Federley gives his view on the recovery programme proposed by the European Commission.
NEWS Published:

A recovery plan for Europe after COVID-19

EU If companies are to be able to emerge from the crisis and continue to grow, we need to see an ambitious and coordinated recovery plan for the EU as early as possible, write Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General, and Anders Edholm, Head of EU-office.
NEWS Published:

Necessary actions to mitigate the Corona crisis

TRADE Swedish Enterprise has sent a position paper to EU-commissioners, Members of the European parliament and several others in order to bring the attention to the list of proposals you can find below.
NEWS Published:

EU state aid regulations can save companies and jobs

COMMENT To help Member States preserve companies and jobs during the current coronavirus crisis, the European Commission has rapidly relaxed EU state aid regulations. At the same time, it is important to safeguard equal conditions for both competition and free enterprise, writes competition and state aid expert Stefan Sagebro.
NEWS Published:

Coronavirus crisis: Seven trade actions that need to be taken now

COMMENT The coronavirus outbreak is placing unprecedented pressure on the EU and international trade. The goal should be to lay the foundations for the best possible conditions post-Corona that keeps as many companies – and jobs – viable. We have no time to wait, writes Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
NEWS Published:

Information on coronavirus / COVID-19 for you as a business owner

CORONA (UPDATED REGULARLY) Due to the recent developments in the spread of the coronavirus, we have summarised the sources where you, as a business owner/operator entrepreneur, can find the latest information.
NEWS Published:

In times of crisis, barriers are not the answer

COMMENT EU must now take powerful measures in the field of trade policy. A constructive measure would be to completely remove import duties on necessary medical equipment, hand soap and disinfectants, imported from third countries, writes Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General International and EU Affairs.
NEWS Published:

EU industrial strategy: "Now the real work will begin"

COMMENT The European Commission has presented an industrial strategy. This will lay out the course for the coming five years. The strategy presented today is simply the starting point. Now the real work will begin, says Göran Grén, Director Head of Business Policy and Law Division at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

"Most important a trade agreement with the UK"

FREE TRADE How should the EU relate to major powers such as the US and China? How does the EU best approach the defence of free trade and an open and a favourable investment climate? To find what our Swedish MEPs in the Trade Committee think, we asked Jörgen Warborn (M, EPP) a few questions.
NEWS Published:

"The US and China are blending trade policy with geopolitical goals"

FREE TRADE How should the EU relate to major powers such as the US and China? How does the EU best approach the defence of free trade and an open and a favourable investment climate? To find what our Swedish MEPs in the Trade Committee think, we asked Karin Karlsbro, L, Renew Europe.
NEWS Published:

This is how to shape Europe's digital future

COMMENT The European Commission is launching its strategy for Europe's digital future. “The debate on the surveillance society, the mapping of citizens and the profiling of consumers is an important consideration as we move into this future, writes lawyer Carolina Brånby.
NEWS Published:

A Competitive European Industry

EU The European Commission will present its industrial strategy on 10 March. In response to this, Swedish Enterprise has produced the position paper, "A Competitive European Industry". This summarises the organisation's views on a range of issues.
NEWS Published:

11 exciting climate projects from Sweden

Swedish companies have long been at the forefront of combining sustainability and environmental ambitions with growth and innovation. From fossil-free steel to CO2 capture, Sweden’s businesses are leveraging tomorrow's technology for a greener world. As innovation and climate-smart solutions become an increasingly important element in our competitiveness, we have listed 11 ground-breaking climate projects currently underway in Sweden’s business world.
NEWS Published:

"There are no long term winners in a protectionist world"

EU Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General International and EU Affairs, believes that the new European Commission must demonstrate that it can manage several issues simultaneously. “It must keep the Union and the single market together, stand up for free movement and maintain its focus on core areas.”