Talman: Jan-Erik Enestam
Plats: The Berlin International Economic Congress 4-7.2 2010
Allow me to start by saying a few words about Nordic cooperation, just to be sure you are “on the map”. Nordic cooperation is one of the world´s most extensive forms of regional collaboration, involving Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the three autonomous areas: The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. The Nordic Council was established in 1952 and has 87 members from the national parliaments. The Nordic Council of Ministers is an intergovernmental cooperation body for the Nordic governments. It was established in 1971. The idea of free movement for people was realized already in the late of 1950, when the passport free union and the common labour market for the Nordic citizens were established.
Nordic cooperation on sustainable development started decades ago and is based on the Bruntdland Commission (1987) definition if the concept:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In essence, sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are brought into line with future as well as present needs”.
Sustainable development has three interdependent dimensions: the economic, the social and the ecological. None of these three dimensions must be allowed to undermine the others. Economic growth, good public health and a safe and robust environment are factors that are mutually dependent on each other and thus preconditions for sustainable development.
Economic growth is important to sustainable development because the resources it generates can be invested in social development and measures to improve the environment. Growth must not cause irreversible damage to the environment and the renewable capacity of natural resources, nor can it be at the expense of peoples´ health and well-being, which are, in turn, also preconditions for economic growth.
The Nordic welfare state is based on fundamental values such as democracy, justice, equality, respect for human rights, gender equality, the promotion of health and well-being, openness and commitment. Health and well-being are connected with a sound living environment. A rich outdoor life and access to nature increases understanding of the efforts and behavioural changes required for development to be sustainable.
The Nordic countries attach great importance to environmental issues. Decades of goal-oriented environmental initiatives have improved the state of the environment in many areas. However, great challenges remain and the importance of international co-operation has become increasingly evident in a globalised world. The ecological footprint left by the average Nordic citizen is far larger than in many other places in the world. High environmental standards have stimulated knowledge generation and technical development, which have contributed to growing environmental technology exports and international success.
Before going deeper into details, let us have a look at how the Nordic countries have coped in a global context, based on international studies conducted by non-Nordic institutions.
As far as international competitiveness is concerned all the Nordic countries are ranked in the top ten. Likewise, all the Nordic countries feature in the top ten of global creativity index. When focus is on technological development, the Nordic countries again perform excellent. Four are in top 10. Norway is the odd one out. Oil and gas are good compensations, I think!
If you had to identify a single reason for Nordic success, it would have to be education and training. And if you want to expand the list, you would have to add education and training and even more education and training. According to the OECD:s Pisa study, education and training is at its best in Finland.
Closely linked to education and training is investment in research and development. Measured as a percentage of GDP, the 15 longer-standing members of the EU invest an average of 2 %. Sweden is top among the Nordic countries, with 4,2 %, followed by Finland, 3,5%, Iceland, 3,1 % and Denmark 2,6%.
Two other comparisons are worth mentioning, as they represent a paradox – the Nordic paradox - in relation to the ones already mentioned. The first is tax burden. Denmark, Sweden and Finland top the table – in that order – as far as tax burden is concerned. Norway is in seventh place, Iceland 19th.
The second concerns sustainable development. Also here all the Nordic countries are in top ten.
The paradox is that – historically – a high level of international competitiveness has been considered incompatible with either high taxes or sustainable development. It is usually the case that the more an economy grows, the more natural resources are consumed, both in absolute and relative terms. The Nordic Countries have succeeded in “decoupling”, which means that the economy is growing faster than the use of natural resources.
As you can see from what I have just said, the Nordic countries are well on track concerning sustainable development. But more has to be done so that not only present but also future generations can be guaranteed a safe, healthy and dignified life. The principle of precaution, the principle of manufacturer responsibility, the principle that polluter pays, and the substitution principle will be guiding principles for the future work, as will the increased internalisation of external costs in the price of products. These goals and principles regarding sustainable development shall continue to be integrated in the work within all sectors of society and in relation to relevant international processes.
Ladies and Gentlemen
After this general presentation of Nordic cooperation on sustainable development I will concentrate on climate change and energy. Global climate negotiations, research and innovation, energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energy sources are central themes in the Nordic climate work. The initiative to arrange COP 15 in Copenhagen is one good example of a Nordic contribution to global negotiations.
All of the Nordic countries make extensive use of renewable energy. Iceland comes top, producing more than 70% of its energy from renewables, followed by Sweden with 60%, Norway with 30%, Finland with 25% and Denmark with 15%. This compares with about 7% in the EU-15.
Although the use of renewable energy differs in each Nordic country, it generally plays an important role. Hydro-power accounts for more than 50% of electricity production, mostly in Norway, Iceland and Sweden. Bio-mass accounts for 3% of electricity production and wind power for 1% (almost all in Denmark). Bio-mass generates 34% of heat production, mainly in Sweden and Finland.
To date, renewable energy has played a negligible role in transport. Transport accounts for between 18% (Finland) and 31% (Denmark) of final energy consumption, which is why fossil fuels remain an important energy source. This situation will change with the expansion of fuel production based on bio-mass and electricity
In spite of their distinct differences, the Nordic countries share some similarities in terms of energy. In all of them, demand for energy is expected to rise by about 0.5% p.a. unless special measures are taken. Renewable energy sources play an increasing role in all of the countries and this role will continue to grow. The national electricity production systems of all of the countries, except Iceland, are also closely interlinked, so anything that makes an impact in one country may have consequences in another due to the integrated nature of the Nordic electricity market.
The main challenge, as well as the main potential, for reducing global warming, lies in greater energy efficiency. It also represents the cheapest and least controversial method of achieving results. Every individual is capable of making an effective contribution, for example:
Planning that takes cognisance of environmental and energy objectives plays a crucial role in improving energy efficiency. Ideally, people should live close enough to their places of work for them to walk or cycle to and from the home. Where this is not possible, the public transport system should be comprehensive enough for there to be no need to drive to work. In larger cities, a congestion charge needs to be levied on private cars to make public transport more attractive and competitive.
Energy production should pursue the following objectives:
To achieve these objectives will require enhanced Nordic co-operation in research into renewable energy and environmental technology. Further Nordic co-operation will also be needed to commercialise and export the new technologies.
What opportunities are available to radically increase the proportion of renewable energy produced in the Nordic countries? And what attitude should the Region adopt to nuclear power?
Nuclear power is not renewable, but it does produce virtually zero emissions. The alternative to nuclear power is ordinary power generated by coal-fired plants. Taking carbon dioxide emissions into account, more nuclear power is a lesser evil than more power generated by coal-fired plants, at least until such times as carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology becomes commercially viable.
A review of the potential for renewable energy in the Nordic Region reveals the following:
The preconditions for increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the Nordic countries are generally good. As shown by this presentation, the preconditions are not the same in all parts of the Region. Complementary expertise is also available, however, and, by bringing this expertise together to generate commercial system solutions for a rapidly growing global market in renewable energy, new business opportunities will be created for Nordic enterprises. Success in this area will require continued investment in research and technology, and this is already in process, initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers. However, it will also require businesses to bring together the expertise that is already available, as well as the new expertise generated by the ongoing commitment to research, and combine it in units sufficiently large to meet the demands of the global market.
Climate change and other environmental problems do not recognise national borders. In order to implement the sustainable solutions these problems require, we must collaborate at national, regional and global levels. Active engagement in international cooperation has therefore long been considered crucial by the Nordic region. We are committed to a strong engagement for a more sustainable world.