In 1915, pioneers in Sweden and Denmark established the first 25 kV power cable between the two countries. This was the very first step towards creating the highly effective joint Nordic electricity market that maintains the balance between power generation and consumption in the region. In 2014, the market, Nord Pool Spot, recorded a traded volume of more than 500TWh for the first time.
Nordic countries have had more success in decarbonising their energy systems than any other region in the world. Remarkably, the countries have made the changeover without sacrificing economic growth. While 2014 marks the first time that global emissions from the energy sector may decouple from GDP, the Nordic region has exhibited a steady decoupling since 1997. At COP21, the Nordic Council of Ministers heads a Nordic Pavilion, showcasing a wide range of green solutions from the Nordic countries.
Large opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions and invest in sustainable energy by ending fossil-fuel subsidies
IISD’s Global Subsidies Initiative, commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers, has developed a new tool to calculate CO2 emissions reductions achieved from removing fossil-fuel subsidies. Modelling of 20 selected countries shows that emissions could be reduced by an average of 11% by phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies between 2015 and 2020.
Together with local partners, the Nordic Partnership Initiative on Up-Scaled Mitigation Action (NPI) is implementing NAMA-readiness programmes in the Peruvian waste sector and the cement sector in Vietnam. The aim is to establish appropriate regulatory, institutional and financial structures to drive a step change towards sustainability in the sectors.
The Nordic region constitutes the world’s 12th largest and the EU’s 5th largest economy – an economy that has experienced a prolonged and dramatic decoupling of emissions and economic growth. Part of the reason for this is the common Nordic electricity market and the use of economic incentives to promote sustainable energy.
October 2015 marks the launch of the Nordic Built Cities Challenge, a multidisciplinary innovation competition encouraging the development of new solutions for sustainable, liveable and smart cities. Entering teams are invited to address six carefully selected urban challenges, one in each Nordic country and one in the Faroe Islands.
The EU aims to increase energy efficiency by 20% by 2020. Ecodesign and energy labelling are important means to achieve this goal, and combined, they are expected to contribute with half of the total reduction in energy use. Since 2013, the Nordic countries have collaborated within the Nordsyn-project to ensure transparent implementation of the European Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives and coherent market surveillance of energy-related products.
Action on climate change is a top priority in the Nordic countries, as are the ongoing international climate negotiations. The Nordic contributions to the UNFCCC negotiation process include scientific input, outreach activities, innovative climate financing and development work – all combined with ambitious emissions-reduction targets.
Securing funding that supports low-emissions and resilient development around the world – not least in developing countries – is crucial in order to limit global warming to 2°C. Three Nordic financial institutions – NDF, NEFCO and NIB – commit significant sums to everything from grants for climate-change and development projects to loans and capital investments. The focus is on both environmental and financial viability.
Biorefineries are highlighted as a key element in meeting the global need for better use of bio-resources in a Nordic project aiming to identify existing biorefineries in the region, main obstacles and opportunities for further collaboration. With the right incentives and regulatory framework in place, the Nordics could develop more efficient technologies and conversion processes, create a stronger market for healthy and sustainable bio-based products and spur job growth across a large variety of sectors.
The effort to reduce global food losses and food waste must encompass all parts of the food supply chain, from primary production to retail and consumption. In 2013, the Nordic Council of Ministers launched three projects on food waste, which have looked into resource efficiency in primary production, date-labelling practices and the redistribution of surplus food.
A new strategy for increased reuse and recycling of textiles in the Nordic Region has just been introduced. It addresses all aspects of the textile sector, from producer responsibility and common quality requirements for collection and sorting, to recycling infrastructure and business models based on collective use and reuse. If fully implemented, the strategy could double the separate collection of textiles and create thousands of jobs in reuse and recycling.
700,000 tons of plastic is incinerated or landfilled with other household waste in the Nordics each year. Collecting and recycling this plastic in new products would be highly beneficial, both from economic and environmental perspectives. Nordic experts have presented measures to increase recycling rates of plastic from households, suggested improvements to sorting of plastic at recycling centres, and identified potentials for enhanced recycling of electronic waste.
SPECIAL EDITION ON NEW NORDIC FOOD
Interviews with six of the creators of the manifesto for the New Nordic Cuisine
Stable and reliable energy supply is a major challenge in some of the sparsely populated areas in the North Atlantic region. While nearly all electricity in Iceland derives from renewables, many other remote communities in the region are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for electricity production. Introducing more renewable energy in these areas requires energy storage solutions and better connections between power grids.
The communities in the North Atlantic region are all characterised by their dependency on fisheries and other marine resources as a source of food, employment and export income. Innovative and sustainable use of these resources is at the core of a new flagship project, Growth in Blue Bioeconomy in the Northeast Atlantic and Arctic. The project, which is led by the Faroe Islands, is part of the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Due to the remoteness of the North Atlantic region, a well-functioning transport network is a vital component for exports and economic growth. Better infrastructures, connectivity to the surrounding regions, and sustainable transport systems on land and on sea are among the strategic priorities for the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation, NORA.