Green appeal from 227 Swedish companies changes the narrative in the run-up to the general elections

Published : Friday, September 9, 2022, 9:49 pm
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With just a few days to go before the Swedish general elections on September 11, more than 220 companies have signed a joint op-ed in Sweden’s biggest national daily newspaper, urging the country’s leading politicians to step up their climate ambitions and start focusing on the huge business potential implied in a rapid green transition.

Among the signatories are CEO’s, founders, and sustainability managers from big companies like Ericsson, Telia, Skanska, Siemens, Polestar and ICA, as well as many medium-sized and small companies from all business sectors. It even includes an airline company and the largest fuel company in Sweden.

With a combined turnover of more than 1000 billion SEK, these companies represent almost a fifth of Sweden’s GDP.

The op-ed was a reaction to a political debate in which the climate crisis has not only been worryingly absent. It critiqued how the transition away from fossil-fuels has been talked about mainly as a “problem”.

”We, the undersigned, don’t want to come second. We want to remain at the forefront. We want to lead the way and show the rest of the world that change is not only possible, but also a recipe for business success”, the company representatives write in the op-ed.

Published on September 7, the op-ed attracted huge media attention in Sweden. Within the first 24 hours, more than 25 media organizations had picked up the story, and it was widely spread in social media. The op-ed set the political agenda in the biggest news programs on national TV, and it was also picked up by reporters working for Le Monde and Libération in France.

Ingmar Rentzog, founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time, was one of the three initiators of the joint call. He was overwhelmed with the response from the business community.

”It was really gratifying to see that so many companies are eager to see stronger climate regulation, and an ending of the support for the fossil-fuel subsidies. We will never solve the climate crisis if we don’t start phasing out destructive subsidies now. And we definitely don’t have time to increase them, which unfortunately has been part of the election pledges of most Swedish parties”, he says.

Johan Falk, CEO of Exponential Roadmap Initiative, one of the other initiators, says: “More than two thirds of the global economy are committed to net zero through the UN backed Race to Zero campaign. We are seeing an exponential growth of low carbon solutions; electrified and shared transports, clean energy and storage, circular solutions, fossil-free materials, sustainable agriculture and so on – enabled by digitalization. The climate transformation is simply the biggest opportunity ever for businesses. With that also comes new jobs, clean air and economic growth for countries. It is essential that politicians do not put in roadblocks but embrace and accelerate the climate transformation and see the opportunities.”

And Kalle Nilver, CEO of GoClimate, the third initiator, says: "Sweden has a business community that wants to lead the way in the green transition. This is the first time that such a large part of the companies have joined together in an appeal directly addressed to politicians with the message that more tougher rules are needed. It is incredibly hopeful to see, both for the sake of Swedish business, but above all for the sake of our children and the next generation,"

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