Who are the Nordics to talk about sustainability?

Think Nordic! Podcast: Who are the Nordics to talk about sustainability?

EU commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, professor Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and President of Wise Europa Think Tank Maciej Bukowski

Robert Bednarczyk
Nordic countries have a reputation as global frontrunners on sustainability, but with high levels of consumption also comes challenges. How can Nordic climate solutions work in other parts of the world?

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In this episode of the Think Nordic! Podcast series, former EU commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, professor Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and President of Wise Europa Think Tank Maciej Bukowski discuss what the model for sustainability in the Nordics entails and how it can be adapted to other contexts.

Trust is the fabric of sustainability in the Nordics

“People in the Nordic region are not necessarily more environmentally concerned than elsewhere in the world. It’s the trust and strong institutions in the countries that have resulted in many years of implementing environmental taxes and regulations”, says Johan Rockström in the podcast taped live in front of an audience at the Nordic Pavilion at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. 

According to Connie Hedegaard this is exactly the way things ought to be. “Regulations and legislation should support doing the right thing. It’s not just feel good – climate action creates jobs and growth”, she says.

Rockström sees the Nordic region as a role model for how to decouple economic growth from CO2 emissions. “In a nutshell it’s about taxing the behaviour you do not wish and subsidize the behaviour you want to encourage. This sounds easy, but it takes time and is based on trust in government” adds Connie Hedegaard and goes on to explain how the clean tech sector in the Nordic region has been growing for years.

The positive tipping-point of Nordic Solutions

“The COP24 in Katowice is situated in the middle of a region where coal mining has been one of the main drivers of economic growth. In order to address climate change, the coal needs to stay in the ground. Climate change is very much a social issue here. We need to transform a society that has been depended on coal for 150 years,” says Maciej Bukowski. He thinks that the Nordic model and solutions can be of inspiration to Poland but also warns that the transition needs to happen together with the people.

No matter where climate solutions are applied, they need to be adapted to the local context. “Just as we are trying to avoid the negative tipping points of climate change, we also need to recognize the potential positive tipping points where solutions are adapted and scaled across the world. This is what Nordic solutions have the potential to do,” says Johan Rockström.

Listen to the full podcast to learn more about how the consumption affects the footprint of the Nordic countries, about the ping-pong game between governments and business, and about how Nordic companies are preparing for a low-carbon future. You can find the Think Nordic! Podcast wherever you usually find your podcasts or just listen at the top of this page.