Kristin Skogen Lund: Low carbon investment gives businesses the competitive edge

9 December 2015

Kristin Skogen Lund, Director general of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise

PARIS: This week at COP21 in Paris, Climate TV spoke live to Kristin Skogen Lund, Director-General, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise about the economic benefits of business switching to cleaner investments, and what the private sector most needs from COP21.

Welcoming the fact business commitment to climate action has “increased vastly in just the last few years”, Kristin Skogen Lund tells The Climate Group’s Climate TV that despite the sector holding “a lot of the solutions” to climate change, it also depends heavily on “a competitive framework that works, and that framework needs to be global. So what business really needs and wants is a global price on carbon.”

With just a few days left of COP21 Paris, Kristin Skogen Lund believes the talks are already a success, and even though a global price on carbon coming out of COP isn’t possible, she sees the first years after Paris as the best opportunity to redouble efforts toward the issue.

Delving into the competitive advantage of carbon pricing, Kristin Skogen Lund says: “A price on carbon is important because business logic is basically market based, and if carbon doesn’t cost it is going be difficult to develop low carbon solutions.

“If you have a price on carbon then that strong force in the market dynamics will move toward a faster low carbon society, it is that simple. If you have a price on carbon and you can manage that at the global level you also have this level field of competition, which is also needed for business to succeed.”

The Director-General admits that moving to a low carbon society can cause a lot of frustration to businesses, especially if “you feel some are leading way and others are not following and you lose your competitiveness.”

But she advises changing our perspective to get round this: “If you spearhead this development with environmental innovation and sustainability you are actually building a competitive advantage because the new solutions will be demanded more and more, and the sooner you can be ahead of that the better off you’ll be when that demand really pumps up.”

CLEAN TECH BUY-IN

Kristin Skogen Lund uses the example of Norway’s electric vehicle market to illustrate how general climate finance can speed up the introduction of new solutions. “Norway has the highest density in the world because the government has spent money subsidizing electric vehicles and the uptake has been phenomenal.” To further stimulate technology development, public buy-in is also important she says.

But either way, she believes in breaking down the false perception that climate action and economic cannot work in tandem. “By investing you create solutions that are sustainable in themselves and will then generate income.

"In this way we can make climate and economy work together; if you make these forces work against each other the climate will lose. If you make them work together they will benefit from each other.”

Concluding the interview, the Director-General summarizes: “Business needs to realize that carbon action and economic development can go hand in hand, and finding and investing in environmental solutions is actually building competitive advantage, because of the way the world is moving forward.”

  • You can watch more of our exclusive video interviews with climate leaders and experts by following the hashtag #ClimateTV on social media.

Text by Clare Saxon Ghauri, video by Ilario D'Amato

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