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Nordic Council calls on the EU to ratify the Paris Agreement

The EU must ratify the Paris Agreement soon in order to maintain momentum and credibility on the climate, the Nordic Council’s Sustainability Committee has written in a letter to the European Commission.


The Nordic Council Parliamentary Conference on Clever Legislation attracted a full house on 27 September.

“The EU cannot claim to be leading the way on the climate if ratification is delayed. The Committee for a Sustainable Nordic Region hopes that the Commission will do everything it can to bring the ratification process to a successful conclusion as soon as possible,” said the chair of the committee, Hanna Kosonen (C, Centre Group). 

The Paris Agreement, which emerged from the UN climate summit in 2015, is legally binding and will come into force when at least 55 parties, accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified it. So far, 61 countries – including the USA and China – have done so, representing 47.79% of emissions.

Clever legislation needed

The Nordic Council hosted a parliamentary conference on clever climate legislation on 27 September in conjunction with its autumn meeting in Stockholm.

“Without clever legislation, the targets in the Paris Agreement will be unattainable, and that is where parliamentarians come in. It is parliaments that ratify the Agreement and make the budget decisions. Winning public support is also important,” Hanna Kosonen noted.

The conference highlighted transport as a sector with major challenges and huge potential for the Nordic countries to work together on climate measures and legislation.

“There are good reasons to look at Scandinavia and Finland as a single area when developing the rail network. But the big hole in the Paris Agreement is that it doesn’t cover air transport and shipping. Working together at Nordic level to have them included in the Agreement would send a signal”, said Tom E. B Holthe (NOR, Prog.), a member of the Committee for Growth and Development in the Nordic Region.

According to Hans Jørgen Koch, Director of the Nordic Energy Research, there are also plenty of opportunities to export Nordic climate solutions, including the smart electricity grid.

“The whole of East Africa has roughly the same mix of energy sources as we have in the Nordic region, for example. What they lack is the knowledge of how to combine the different forms of energy and work together across national boundaries. This represents an export opportunity for Nordic expertise and technology,” he explains.

Vegetables or insects?

Professor Jørgen E. Olesen of Aarhus University presented the complex but necessary work that needs to be done on the climate in the agriculture and forestry sectors. Food production has a greater impact on the climate than many realise and efforts to combat food waste will be of huge importance in the long term. 

“All Nordic families and workplaces should introduce one meat-free day per week. That would be a good way to make people aware that meat production is a hundred times more detrimental to the climate than growing vegetables,” said Karin Gaardsted (DK, Soc Dem), a member of the Nordic Council Sustainability Committee.

Satu Hassi (Fin, C) took this idea a step further.

“In our culture it is alien to eat insects at all, but you can make sausages out of them in the same way as you do with meat and liver,” she suggested.

“The advantage with insects is that the production time is short, but a more probable way forward would be to increase the proportion of vegetables in food for both humans and animals,” Jørgen E. Olesen replied.

Read the report Climate policy in the Nordic Region – a comparison of objectives and measures in the Nordic countriesby the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).


Heidi Orava
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