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Public-Private Partnerships to solve the climate crisis

More cooperation between government and business is the only road ahead to save the climate, according to former UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer. He spoke at a Nordic Council seminar in Oslo on January 24, where he urged the Nordic countries to take the lead towards a global climate solution.


- Upwards of 85 % of all new energy investments come from the private sector which needs stable frameworks for such long term planning, so we need a clear international climate agreement, said Yvo de Boer in Oslo on January 24 (Foto: Erik Martiniussen)

A snow clad Norwegian parliament provided the setting for a hearing on Nordic leadership in reducing  global warming, organized by the Nordic Council – the cooperation of the parliamentarians in the five Nordic countries – on January 24.

Main speaker was Yvo de Boer, UN Climate Chief during the ill-fated Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 and now global climate expert at the international consulting company KPMG. And he was not overly optimistic about the future.

a comprehensive international treaty is still the only way forward

- Nothing has essentially happened in the global climate negotiations since Rio 92 and there are still colossal divisions of interests between the parties despite hundreds of meetings and summits. The buzz word now is green growth, but does any world leaders really believe in greening the economy as a feasible way forward in the midst of an economic crisis, de Boer asked rhetorically in his address.

However, a comprehensive international treaty is still the only way forward, he argued. And largely for the very economic reasons that seem to be the main impediment.

- Upwards of 85 % of all new energy investments come from the private sector. And above all, businesses need stable frameworks for such long term planning as is involved here. Therefore we need a clear international climate agreement and we need to engage politicians and institutions like the Nordic Council much more actively, de Boer said.

- And we also need to make the case for why green investments are profitable, country by country. And here the Nordic countries can show the way both with the high emission reduction targets they have set for themselves at home and the know-how they have in creating green solutions globally, he added.

Nordic Solutions

The instrument of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) is particularly promising in terms of lowering emissions in a customized way fitted to individual developing economies, according to de Boer.

Here the Nordic countries are also at the forefront, as they launched the Nordic Partnership Initiative at COP17 in Durban last December. The NPI sets out to find ways to reduce emissions in the waste sector in Peru and the cement sector in Vietnam, with the specific aim of finding new financing opportunities to help developing nations green their economy, including public-private partnerships.

businesses know that what is harmful to society today is an added cost for them tomorrow

And according to both Director Magnus Rystedt from the Nordic Environment Financing Corporation (NEFCO) and Knut Kjær, former head of the immensely wealthy Norwegian Oil Fund, private businesses are in fact interested in making responsible investments.

- Since 2006, 920 funds and investors, representing 300 trillion dollars worth of investments, have signed on to the UN Principles for Responsible Investments. They know that what is harmful to society today is an added cost for them tomorrow, said Knut Kjær, now chairman of FNS Capital Partners.

Magnus Rysted supplemented with an overview of the over 70 million Euro invested annually through NEFCO’s public-private partnership programmes both in the Nordic-Balric region and globally, one of many examples of Nordic leadership in the climate and environment arena exemplifying de Boers call for the Nordic countries to lead the way towards new climate solutions.

- The Nordic Council has been heavily involved in the climate and energy debate and passed on a number of resolutions to the Nordic governments. But we need to keep asking if the Nordic countries can do more. According to the IEA, for every euro we fail to invest in the energy sector before 2020, we will need to spend four to compensate for climate emissions after 2020. This is not a legacy I want to pass on, said chairman of the Environment Committee of the Nordic Council, Ann-Kristine Johansson in her opening address at the seminar.

The committee will thus intensify its work on climate related issues throughout 2012 with the aim of urging the Nordic governments on in the effort to find new ways ahead.


Tryggvi Felixson
Phone +45 29 69 29 37