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Sitra and top firms join forces to combat climate change

Sitra has teamed up with some of Finland's biggest companies in an effort to react more effectively to the consequences of climate change...

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Sitra and a host of major Finnish companies are challenging Finland to act faster in facing up to the effects of climate change. To promote the issue, Finland’s Innovation Fund, alongside Neste Oil, Fortum, Kone, Outotec, Caverion and ST1, are establishing a registered organisation known as the Climate Leadership Council.

The primary aim is to encourage Finland’s business and research sector to seek solutions to the problems of climate change and dwindling natural resources. Founding members view profitable and sustainable business as the most effective response to global environmental problems.

“Our business sector needs to join the front line in shaping our changing world,” says Antti Herlin, Chairman of Kone’s Board of Directors.We are all duty-bound to combat climate change and the serious threat it represents. This could also be an opportunity. If the domestic market provides the support they need, Finnish companies can become international frontrunners in this area.” The founding of the Council was announced on Wednesday 21 May, at a meeting of the Confederation of Finnish Industries.

“A push towards the wise use of materials and energy will generate new innovations and boost our competitiveness. Finland needs a clear vision of how it intends to become carbon neutral and the first coal-free country,” said Mikko Kosonen, President of Sitra, in his introduction to the Council.

The Council will initiate projects for the creation of world-class cleantech reference areas in Finland, in areas including the Helsinki region. These reference areas will be zones for testing and trials, in which companies can introduce their own cleantech solutions and practices for replication elsewhere.  Finnish companies have lacked a platform for trials and technology solutions with an international impact, which would be likely to provide firms with important references.

The Council will gather – and provide its members with – information on global trends in the environmental sector and perform comparisons with best practices in other countries. It will also encourage the public sector to create environmentally friendly and innovative solutions, for example through public-sector procurements. Public procurements account for around a fifth of GDP and could be used by Finland as strategic tools in expediting the market entry of innovative cleantech solutions. This is now standard practice in countries such as the United Kingdom.

As members, the Climate Leadership Council welcomes companies and research institutes, private individuals and organisations that strive to meet the Council’s objectives in their own activities.

“No actor can make this change alone; we need the public, private and third sectors to come on board,” says Kosonen.

In their joint launch of the initiative in early April, announced in the Finnish national daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, leading figures from Sitra, ST1, Kone, Outotec, Neste Oil and Fortum proposed that Finland end its use of coal and that the Helsinki region become a game changer in its promotion of cleantech and clean energy. This proposal drew much attention, as well as the plaudits of decision-makers, companies and citizens.

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