The topic for the debate between the Nordic Council’s parliamentarians and the Nordic prime ministers was how the Nordic countries can pursue a radical climate policy that will quickly reduce carbon dioxide emissions while mustering democratic support and encouraging social dialogue.
The Nordic prime ministers have just adopted the vision of the Nordic Region being the most sustainable region in the world by 2030.
Parliamentarians from all parties in five countries have now gathered to ask “who?” and “how?”
Collective climate solutions needed
Iceland’s Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, opened the debate by stating who, in order, has most responsibility for the Nordic countries’ green transition.
“Only once politicians and companies take responsibility can we start talking about the responsibility of individuals,” she said.
Denmark’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, picked up on this and explained that it is collective and structural solutions that will make society greener, and that the transition must be rooted in equality and not create gaps between people.
“We can’t disappoint young people”
“The population has pushed the climate issue high up the political agenda. We can never allow young people to feel that democracy cannot solve the climate crisis,” said Frederiksen.
Anders Kronborg, a Danish parliamentarian from the Social Democratic Group, pointed out how easy it is for everyone in Copenhagen to use public transport or environmentally friendly electric bikes, while those in his hometown outside Esbjerg need to use a car when taking their kids to football practice, for example.
“We must understand and take into account the different circumstances in our countries,” he said.
Rural areas must also benefit
Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, stated that small rural municipalities must be compensated if they give up land for wind farms or other renewable energy sources.
She felt this was one of many ways that rural areas could benefit from the green transition.
“We politicians must use people’s day-to-day lives as our starting point. We need to stress that although change is incredibly difficult, it is absolutely necessary. If we’re to live up to our political promises, everyone who commutes by car in Norway must switch to zero-emission vehicles. We will get rid of two million cars powered by fossil fuels,” said Solberg.
Norwegian oil money comes with a responsibility
Denmark’s Christian Juhl of the Green Group asked the critical question of how Norway can use its oil fund money to support poorer countries in their green transition.
Solberg’s answer - that the funds are used to identify and invest in companies that develop solutions to reduce energy costs and the consumption of resources - failed to satisfy Juhl.
Give companies more flexibility
Sweden’s Magnus Ek of the Centre Group argued that companies and innovators need better conditions for finding new solutions for a sustainable society.
“Those who demonstrate for the climate aren’t demanding a place at the negotiating table. They’re demanding that we act now. But solutions are developed by companies and in research labs as well,” he said.
We can prove the gloom-mongers wrong
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, did not agree.
“The Nordic business sector consists of 115,000 companies that want to contribute to a climate-neutral society. A rapid green transition will create more growth. The Nordic Model has been successful because it can accommodate rapid change. The Nordic Region has been transformed from a poor backwater to a successful region, and we can prove the gloom-mongers wrong once again,” said Löfven.