Nordic prime ministers and other government ministers responsible for the climate met in Helsinki on Friday 25 January. They agreed to strengthen Nordic climate co-operation and take a leading role in global efforts to fight climate change.
“The idea behind the meeting is to send a message to the rest of the world that the Nordic Region is committed to the 1.5-degree target. We will improve and update our national commitments under the Paris Agreement and are willing to take up the fight against climate change in all international fora,” says Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Housing who hosted the meeting together with Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.
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Reinforcing climate goals
The new declaration states, among other things, that the Nordic countries will reinforce their climate goals through to 2020 and work together to become carbon neutral.
The declaration read as follows: “By working together we can develop zero-emission solutions that have a global impact. We must make it possible for Nordic industry to take a leading role in the global green transition (…) With this declaration, we are stating our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality in all five Nordic countries and to follow up on Nordic climate policy in international fora in order to deliver solutions that reduce global emissions.” This will then be followed up by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The background to the initiative is the UN climate negotiations in Katowice in December of last year, and last autumn’s report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that the world’s nations must act quickly if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The Nordic countries have a long tradition of working together on climate and environmental policy, such as through the prime ministerial initiative “Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges” and “Generation 2030”, which addresses a number of Nordic solutions to the challenges described in the Paris Agreement and the UN’s 17 global sustainable development goals.
Leading the way
The Nordic prime ministers now want to boost their climate ambitions.
“This meeting demonstrates that all the Nordic countries are prioritising climate change and that we can react quickly. I believe the Nordic countries can work together more closely on climate policy. We all have our own national plans for carbon neutrality, and we can all learn more from each other,” says Katrin Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister for Iceland, which this year holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.