Paris climate negotiations: Businesses want to be part of the solution


Businesses want to offer solutions for climate change mitigation. For the market to operate for the benefit of the climate, an international price tag for emissions is required. The Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) is an important step towards genuine, global reductions in emissions.

The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) co-hosted a climate seminar in Helsinki on 5 November, which considered the positive opportunities opening to businesses by climate change mitigation.

Finnish companies can offer cutting edge cleantech solutions to the world markets. The more extensive the climate agreement reached, the larger the market created for climate solutions. And the more equal the commitments, the more even the businesses’ playing field becomes and the threat of so-called carbon leakage is reduced. Attaching prices to emissions is a crucial means of making the markets take action to reduce emissions.

Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala, Director at the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) describes the approach of the businesses at the climate negotiations:

–Businesses do not want to be creators of the climate problem, but contributors to its solution. Climate measures proceed most effectively when the market mechanisms are functioning as fluently as possible. That’s why we need to enforce the global pricing of emissions. The climate issue demands dialogue both with governments, the industrial and commercial sector, employee organisations, NGOs and other interest groups of society.

Timo Vuori, Executive Director for Finland of the International Chamber of Commerce, wants to stimulate debate on the practical promotion of the climate business:

–What we need now is a credible, global climate agreement. Removal of customs restrictions for cleantech products would be an important step, which would also speed up the access of Finnish businesses to the world markets.

The Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, Kimmo Tiilikainen, believes that a comprehensive and binding climate agreement would be a great opportunity for Finland:

–The objective in Paris is to agree on how to reach the two-degree target and how the reductions in emissions should be checked at set intervals. These would constitute clear signals for the business world. The world is heading towards low carbon emissions, and we can offer the growing markets good know-how.

The President and CEO of the Rettig Group, Management Group member of the Cleantech Finland Brand, Hans Sohlström, believes in the export potential:

–The special strengths of Finnish cleantech businesses are renewable energy and bioproducts, recycling, water and air purification, and energy efficiency. In these areas, Finland is able to offer world-class expertise.

The viewpoint of the international business community was brought to the seminar by Martina Bianchini, Vice Chair, ICC Commission on Environment and Energy:

–Saving the climate is a shared mission, for which both governments, businesses and individuals must do all they can. We now need a credible international agreement; mere regional measures are not enough. Smart regulation is the key to cleantech companies getting their climate-saving solutions used as widely as possible in the world markets.

Olli Koski, Chief Economist of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, expects the Paris negotiations to accelerate the demand for climate solutions:

–Climate change mitigation still requires sizeable investments. This includes a significant chance of creating demand and jobs. A comprehensive Paris agreement would bring stability and outlook for climate measures and investments.

Kaarina Kolle, Climate and Energy Officer at WWF Finland, does not think that the world can wait for the Paris agreement to come into force:

–We are faced with a gaping emissions canyon of gigatonnes, which we must fix – before 2020. Fortunately, many companies have proved to be light years ahead of governments and have taken the situation in hand. We desperately need innovative pioneer businesses to reform our energy systems. In addition to this, companies need the courage to adapt to a low-carbon society, which we inevitably have ahead of us.

Jussi Nykänen, CEO of Greenstream Oy, considers the importance of the climate agreement from the point of view of the SME:

–The markets drive businesses to develop more climate-friendly products and services. Thus, the green trend is based on genuine demand, but success at the Paris conference would provide further reinforcement.

The seminar was organised by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) and the Finnish branch of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).