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Carbon footprint of Nasdaq Helsinki listed firms down by a fifth

Although the carbon intensity of the listed companies on the Nasdaq Helsinki has decreased, an investment in Helsinki creates more CO2 emissions than an equivalent in Stockholm.


Tuula Sjöstedt

Lead, Communications and Public Affairs, Sitra


The calculated carbon intensity of the listed companies on the Nasdaq Helsinki has decreased by 20% since last year. However, an investment in the listed companies in Helsinki creates more CO2 emissions than an equivalent investment in firms listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm. This is the finding of a study commissioned by Sitra, which for the first time compared the carbon intensity of the listed companies on the Nasdaq Helsinki and Nasdaq Stockholm.

The 20% change is significant, indicating that investors and companies are genuinely working towards reducing climate risks. At the same time, the “do-it-yourself” investor tool for carbon footprinting has been updated. With its help the investors can estimate the CO2 intensity of their own holdings in Finnish listed companies, namely the amount of carbon dioxide emissions created in relation to the company’s market cap and the ownership share of the investor.

This year Sitra assessed the carbon footprint of the Nasdaq Helsinki’s listed companies as a continuation of the study carried out by Sitra with Nasdaq Helsinki and the Climate Leadership Council last year. The new study indicates that the change is significant: the calculated carbon intensity of 130 listed companies on the Nasdaq Helsinki is 20% less than last year, the measurement being based on the greenhouse emissions in relation to the listed companies’ market cap. Apart from the new company listings and the Helsinki All-share index increase, this is mainly due to the listed companies’ genuine efforts to reduce emissions. When the measurement is based on emissions in relation to the companies’ turnover, the emissions of the Nasdaq Helsinki’s listed companies have decreased by six per cent from the previous year.

In relation to the key comparison indices, the situation has changed very little: the Nasdaq Helsinki is still less carbon intensive than the important European comparison indices, but it exceeds the carbon intensity of the MSCI World index by 30%. Compared with the Nasdaq Stockholm’s listed companies, Helsinki has a lot of catching up to do: an investment of one euro in the Nasdaq Helsinki produces 3.5 times more emissions than a euro invested in the Nasdaq Stockholm. A million-euro investment in the listed companies in Helsinki produces 236 tons of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e), whereas the corresponding figure in the Nasdaq Stockholm stands at 66 tons of CO2e. If we also count the emissions caused by the supply chains and emissions as a result of the use of the products, the share of the funded emissions for a million-euro portfolio in Helsinki is 716 tons of CO2e and in Stockholm 237 tons of CO2e.

“We are pleased with the results showing that the carbon intensity of the Nasdaq Helsinki listed companies is down by one fifth compared to last year,” says Henrik Husman, President of Nasdaq Helsinki. “It is excellent that Sitra has repeated last year’s carbon footprint study: it provides much-needed information to all listed companies and investors in Helsinki. We do hope that publishing the comparison data will encourage listed companies and investors to pay attention to climate risks.”

Climate risks of investments will be studied in closer detail

In Finland, both politicians and the public have demanded transparency from investors about the impacts of investments on climate change. France’s legislation already obliges asset managers to report on the carbon footprint of their investments to local finance supervision bodies. In addition, Sweden’s finance minister, Per Bolund, has publicly encouraged both the financial markets and the consumers to act responsibly to tackle climate change.

Nowadays, Finnish investors follow much more closely the environmental and climate impacts and the CO2 intensity of their investments, since it helps them to evaluate their portfolio and assess its risk exposure better. Sitra is now offering an updated investment tool with the help of which the investors themselves can estimate the carbon footprint of their portfolio in comparison with the general index of Nasdaq Helsinki (OMXHPI). This also lowers the threshold for the evaluation of the climate risks of foreign investments.

“Real benefits from the estimation of carbon footprint and climate risks can be obtained when the companies are compared in the same industry,” explains Janne Peljo, Sitra’s leading specialist in the field.

“However, direct comparisons between two markets are not necessarily meaningful because the results to a large extent reflect the industry classifications of the listed companies. It would be important to consider how the companies’ emission profiles will develop in the future and what strategies and objectives the companies have set to reduce their CO2 emissions.”

According to the report, various sizes of Finnish institutional investors, including Elo, Ilmarinen, the Church Pension Fund and Varma already use carbon footprinting in their work. In practice, this means, for example, a definition of the climate policy for investments, an establishment of theme portfolios focusing on the impacts of climate change and measurement, and a conscious reduction of the carbon intensity of equity investments.

Furthermore, asset managers and banks in Finland are now becoming more serious about their exposure to carbon risk and have started looking at their investments and funding decisions from the climate perspective. In its study Sitra has used the efforts of Mandatum Life, Nordea and OP as examples concerning climate-related risks and opportunities, but also other asset managers in Finland have made climate-related efforts as their starting points. eQ, for example, has reacted to the transformation in the energy field.

Finnish listed companies are more active in reporting their emissions

As we move towards a low-emission world, companies with lower emissions than determined by the standards will probably manage better than emission-intensive companies. The study tries to shed light on this with its forward-looking analysis. It makes use of the oekom Carbon Risk Rating evaluation, which uses an extensive indicator list related to climate change and its risks and to emission reporting and the targets of emission reduction.

The Nasdaq Helsinki’s listed companies receive on average better evaluations in the analysis than the Nasdaq Stockholm’s listed companies; the evaluations for the companies with the largest emissions in particular are generally on a good level. In other ways too, the Nasdaq Helsinki’s listed companies have generally done well with their emissions reporting. Those companies listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki are more diligent in reporting their climate emissions than the companies listed in Stockholm. For example, the nine largest emissions producers in Helsinki report their emissions to CDP. Even though only 33% of the Nasdaq Helsinki’s listed companies report their emissions, of the exchange’s market cap 93% do report emission data, whereas in Stockholm the corresponding figures are 25% and 74%. So, as far as the reporting of emissions data is concerned, large companies are clearly more active than smaller listed companies.

What does the report deal with?

The report indicates the gross amount of greenhouse emissions of the Nasdaq Helsinki’s listed companies and analyses which companies and sectors have the largest CO2 emissions in relation to the company’s market cap and turnover. The analysis is based on the emissions data reported by the companies in 2015. Where there is a lack of reported emissions data, the South Pole Group has modelled the emissions on the basis of the company’s industry and its company-specific variables.

In addition to the report, we have now updated an investment tool with the help of which the investors themselves can estimate the carbon footprint of their portfolio in comparison with the OMX Helsinki All-Share index (OMXHPI).

Download the report.

Download the Screening Tool. User guide for the screening tool is attached to the report. Please note that the tool will only work, if the use of macros is accepted, when opening the file.

What are direct and indirect emissions?

Direct emissions (Scope 1) = direct emissions from own operations

Indirect emissions (Scope 2) = all emissions that stem from buying electricity and heat and that are apportioned according to the company’s consumption

Indirect emissions (Scope 3) = other indirect emissions up- and downstream, such as those from a company’s supply chain or product usage

See the presentations from the launch event

Robert Rosenberg: Climate Impact Screening of Nasdaq Helsinki 2015 from Sitra / Ekologinen kestävyys

Harri Leppänen: SSAB reducing carbon emissions from Sitra / Ekologinen kestävyys

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