Climate Action talked with Henrik Ehrnrooth, Chairman of Climate Leadership Council- a rapidly growing network of leading Finnish and international companies and organizations offering business solutions against climate change and a strategic partner at the 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum.
1. Do you want to tell us a few words on Climate Leadership Council (CLC) and its work?
Major Finnish companies together with Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund established the Climate Leadership Council in 2014.
Climate change is a major societal threat that CLC members are helping solve by developing new solutions. Climate change can be mitigated through new technologies, new consumption behaviour and new business models. We are developing business solutions for climate mitigation in energy, transportation, buildings, forestry, and agriculture as well as speeding up low-carbon investments via carbon pricing, decreasing climate and carbon investment risks and activating citizens into climate positive actions. Climate change mitigation is lucrative because the new solutions are profitable.
We are a rapidly growing network of leading Finnish and international companies and organisations. Our current 40 members represent around half of the market cap of the Helsinki stock exchange.
2. Your first key initiative was the Smart & Clean foundation. What did you achieve there?
Smart & Clean foundation’s aim is to accelerate decarbonisation and circular economy in Helsinki region by creating new cutting-edge smart & clean solutions in mobility, energy, buildings, and water & waste management. The idea is to pilot and demonstrate innovative technologies and services in different areas of the capital region. The best concepts developed in Helsinki will be exported worldwide.
Citizens, cities, companies and research organisations in the Helsinki region will drive the change together towards a more sustainable and prosperous future. This will make the area the best test bed in the world for smart and clean solutions.
Smart & Clean foundation creates and initiates several significant changes during five years of its operation. The foundation has started its work with the following five targets: the world’s most attractive emission-free mobility; the world’s most resource wise citizens, the world’s smartest urban energy, and the world’s leading circular economy city, which is a world leader in built environments with a positive environmental impact. Helsinki Air Quality Testbed (HAQT), is one of the very first Smart & Clean projects and will set up world’s first, city-wide supplementary air quality sensor network to improve and extend the existing urban air quality monitoring system in the Helsinki capital region. More accurate information will enable various means and solutions aimed at reducing emissions and minimising exposure to them.
3. After the Paris Agreement, the momentum kept growing across businesses to contribute to climate change mitigation efforts. What do you think created this momentum?
Climate change is also a big business opportunity. The demand for clean solutions in housing, transportation, and waste management is increasing.
This demand will trigger changes in supply, and companies will need to become innovative, create new sustainable business concepts and rethink their sourcing, production, logistics, materials, energy production and recycling.
We are already seeing this in action. Global consumer-product giants are setting ambitious, science-based emission reduction targets, evaluating their supply chain and building their own renewable energy production capacity. Financial institutions are demanding increasingly robust reporting on climate risks and actions from companies.
4. What do you think is needed to keep the momentum going?
Citizens hold a very crucial role in emission reduction and can contribute towards keeping the momentum up. Based on recent studies, as much as 70 percent of consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions come from households.
The fact is, we can all decrease our carbon footprint by changing our consumption patterns. The biggest impact can be achieved through four key choices: 1) how we heat and cool our houses and how the electricity that we buy is produced, 2) how we move around doing our daily business, 3) what we eat and 4) whether the products we buy can be sustainably circulated.
One thing each of us can do is sign the global citizen’s climate pledge. Our personal carbon footprint can be calculated by using the climate diet calculator and motivation for low-carbon choices can be found in the 100 smart ways to live sustainably website.
5. The Climate Leadership Council will be sponsoring this year’s Sustainable Innovation Forum. What do you expect from the event?
We believe that organizations capable of innovating new sustainable products and services will be forerunners in developing competitive solutions to global environmental challenges. Their example inspires others and speeds up the movement towards carbon neutrality. Climate change is so significant challenge that we will need broad cooperation between governments, businesses, cities, and NGOs. The Sustainable Innovation Forum is an excellent forum for open dialog, sharing best practices and learning from each other’s experiences.
Climate Leadership Council is a Strategic Partner at the upcoming 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum, the largest business-focused event taking place alongside COP23 in Bonn, Germany, 13-14 November. Henrik Ehrnrooth will participate Panel Discussion: Shifting your Organisation into the Circular Economy at 14 November.