Global demand and new legislation are pushing Finnish industries towards developing green technologies. Products and services in this area can keep us competitive in a changing world.
The new government program states that Finland aims to be a pioneer in the clean-energy transition and carbon handprint reductions. The program contains many good elements to support the green transition. It takes a broad perspective on the Finnish business environment, proposing to increase domestic clean-energy production, raise research and development financing to 4% of GDP, promote digitalization, and strengthen expertise.
However, the responsibility for realizing the benefits of these elements in new products and services for international markets rests with the Finnish companies themselves. The conditions for action are in place, but implementation now depends on collaboration between various stakeholders.
Finland has the opportunity to be an international force for change by increasing our carbon handprint, thereby helping others to reduce their carbon footprint.
In May 2023, a survey commissioned by Tietoevry revealed that more than 60% of Finns have lost faith in Finland becoming carbon neutral by 2035. What are the possible drivers of this changed perspective? One reason could be the extensive public debate on the topic during the spring. This may have had the effect of making Finland’s carbon-neutrality goals appear too abstract and distant from Finnish citizens.
Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to note that over half of the respondents in the survey believe that Finland can benefit from the industrial green transition. People see the potential to develop expertise (51%), create new jobs (37%), and improve the competitiveness of export industries (27%).
During the 2023 SuomiAreena public debate, Markku Ollikainen from Finland’s Climate Panel discussed concrete steps towards the country’s net-negative emissions targets. He presented a simple plan for using Finland’s forests to capture industrial carbon dioxide and reduce emissions. New technologies for carbon sequestration would be key to achieving this vision.
Customer demands and new legislation are raising the sustainability bar for Finnish companies. To remain competitive, it’s essential for our industries to be at the forefront of both the data economy and the green transition. These areas present Finland with an excellent opportunity to stand out amid international competition.
Climate policy and biodiversity protection are progressing rapidly worldwide, leading to increased investments in these areas. The United States has allocated USD 400 billion in production and demand subsidies for the green transition, following similar moves by China and many European countries.
Finland cannot compete with such figures, so it’s crucial for us to invest in future technologies and the development of the business environment in ways that encourage companies to focus on innovation. We have a good example and a challenger in our neighbor – the Luleå region of Sweden – where investment is flowing and skilled professionals are moving.
A significant portion of the Finnish industry’s emissions come from supply chains. Yet many handprint solutions already exist to reduce customers' emissions and material usage. For example, by using data to optimize the operations of Tietoevry’s customers we can help them to reduce their own emissions, optimize equipment usage, and improve productivity. Utilizing data to streamline the entire value chain leads to cost savings and supports the green transition. Small steps have a significant impact.
But we also need new solutions and close cooperation between different industries. A good example is the collaboration between the forest and textile industries, which has resulted in new material solutions like bio-based textiles.
According to a study commissioned by EK (The Confederation of Finnish Industries), the emission reductions from Finland's green exports already exceed our national emissions.
Regarding green energy use, Tietoevry has achieved its targets already. Our data centers in the Nordics now use 100% green energy and we are close to reaching a 100% recycling rate for equipment. We are also committed to Science-Based Targets (SBTis) for reducing emissions.
Our most significant impact comes from how our customers utilize data and optimize their production. Emissions savings can be achieved through simple measures. Companies have long optimized specific areas, but a broader perspective has often been lacking.
For example, nearly half of Konecranes' revenue comes from equipment maintenance, including the addition of new features. Modernizing equipment extends its lifecycle and may reduce the carbon footprint of any products it’s used for.
Industry can also achieve immediate savings by reducing energy use or waste. For example, when data is more available and transparent, different companies can optimize retail deliveries by ensuring trucks transport full loads from warehouses to stores.
The obligations imposed on companies are growing, but so too is companies’ interest in the transparency of their value chains and environmental impacts. The amount of data is also increasing, which poses challenges for transparency. The answer lies in technology such as sensors that allow us to operate in complex environments, as well as store data and exchange it between different actors quickly and smoothly.
Let’s take another example from Konecranes. The company has 25,000 suppliers that it deals with directly. It also needs to monitor the subcontractors of these suppliers. This kind of comprehensive management is not possible without technology and data.
The final question is about what engine of this change is: the environment, or the business? “Either or" is no longer the way to approach this. Without the green transition, companies have no chance of survival.
The idea behind good climate policy is that pursuing profits and emission reductions go hand in hand, and we have already succeeded well with this in Finland. Now is the time to look boldly to the future and continue collaborating with various stakeholders to promote the green transition!
The SuomiAreena discussion included Markku Ollikainen from the Climate Panel, Juha Pankakoski from Konecranes, Ulla Heinonen from EK (Confederation of Finnish Industries), and Jaakko Tapanainen from Tietoevry. It was moderated by Mari Haavisto.
I'm strategic thinker with passion to lead and drive changes. I believe in people, teamwork and empowered way of working. One theme is how customer behavior drives, and digitalization enables, industry convergence and disruptions both in b2b and b2c field. I'm passionate helping customers to find new business opportunities and business models enabled by digitalization as well as helping CIO's agenda is driving agility, adaptability and cost efficiency in their current IT services.