May 29, 2019

Finland can lead the world towards a carbon-neutral circular economy

Ernesto Hartikainen

Senior lead, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra

This is a special year for Finland on the global stage. Finland has the Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second half of this year. With the European Parliament elections also just having been held, Finland will have its European Union presidency with a new European Parliament and Commission, meaning there will be an excellent opportunity to influence the European agenda and the direction of the future European economy.

However, in a globalised economy, Europe is not alone. Having made up a quarter of the world’s economic output in the early 1990s, nowadays the European Union is responsible for only a sixth. The rise of economies in Asia, mainly China, has shifted the global economic landscape. Whereas the G7 countries of the major economies (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US) used to determine the direction on global economic issues, the more modern-day decisive group is the G20, which includes the economies of China, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, as well as that of the European Union. If this group jointly decides something, it will guarantee global impact. And there is not a more global and urgent challenge than climate change.

The happiest country in the world should also be the most responsible.

Meanwhile, Japan has the chairmanship of the G20 this year. Finland and Japan have surprisingly many similarities even though they are halfway across the planet from each other. One of these is the concern for global warming and the realisation that the circular economy is a winning strategy for economic development and job creation whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The happiest country in the world should also be the most responsible. This includes showing the way and helping others. The G20 meetings in Japan this year are an excellent opportunity for Finland to share the learnings it is generating on a carbon-neutral circular economy and support global leaders towards this same path.

Finland and Japan can and should lead the European Union and the G20 countries respectively towards a future in which the warming of Earth’s atmosphere is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. For all of our benefit ­– now, and in the future.

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