Almedalen 2017 Highlights: “Carbon Law” and integration of SDGs into business strategy

From left to right: Cecilia Nord (Electrolux), Matilda Gennvi Gustafsson (Ericsson), Andreas Foller (Scania), Helene Siberg Wendin (EY), Jan Eliasson (4th Deputy Secretary-General of the UN 2012-16) and Rebecca Rhen (EY)

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending Almedalsveckan (Almedalen Week) – a free annual event that is open to the public which takes place in early July on the Swedish island of Gotland. Considered to be the most important forum in Swedish politics, this year’s program consisted of more than 3,500 seminars hosted by the Swedish government, academia, institutions, local authorities, companies, non-governmental organizations, and different political parties. The event started more than 50 years ago and has grown to be a frontrunner in the discussion of many topics, with increasing numbers of international participants. It has also inspired several other countries to start their own versions of the concept in their countries.

The Carbon Law, inspired by Moore’s Law

I spent my first day at Almedalen on stage with representatives of the Stockholm Resilience Center, Intel, and Swedish local authorities, as well as a company called Cero that helps organizations to address the issue of carbon emissions. The main topic up for discussion was the “Carbon Law”, which was developed by scientists under the leadership of the Stockholm Resilience Center, inspired by Moore’s Law. In short, Moore´s Law originated around 1970 and the simplified version of it states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers, will double every two years.

First presented in the publication Science in March 2017, the Carbon Law is a pathway to halve emissions per decade up to 2050 to ensure that the world meets the Paris agreement. It applies to all sectors and countries at all scales and encourages bold action in the short term. It means, for example, the doubling of zero-carbon shares in the energy system every 5 to 7 years, a rate consistent with the trajectory of the past decade. All sectors (agriculture, construction, finance, manufacturing, transport, and so on) need comparable transformation pathways. In addition, in the absence of viable alternatives, the world must aim at rapidly scaling up CO2 removal by technical means from zero to at least 0.5 GtCO2/year by 2030, 2.5 by 2040, and 5 by 2050.

Ericsson peer-reviewed research shows that ICT can reduce global CO2e emissions by 15% by 2030 in areas such as transportation, smart grids, buildings, and industry, as well as agriculture and food. Together with Telia Company, we also have peer-reviewed research evidence from 2010 in Sweden in which we decoupled data traffic and electricity usage (hence also carbon emissions), showing that the ICT industry can lead the pathway to the Paris agreement.

Integrating SDGs in business strategy

The other panels, work sessions and seminars that I participated in focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how companies, institutions and local authorities have started to integrate them into business, including the barriers and challenges we face when doing so. We also discussed the vital area of partnership, which is SDG 17. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) shared its example of the Swedish Leadership of Sustainable Development, which is a network of more than 25 companies with roots in Sweden, that support the integration of sustainable development into their businesses.

I was honored to represent Ericsson on several panels and at seminars where we had been invited to present best practice examples. One of the seminars was opened by Mr. Jan Eliasson, who served as 4th Deputy Secretary-General of the UN between mid-2012 and 2016. Mr. Eliasson gave a fantastic speech about the progress toward the SDGs and the need to build a good society where we can trust and one another. Later, the consultancy firm EY launched the report, “Sustainability efforts in Swedish companies: How do they engage with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda?” which included Ericsson best practices together with other companies’ examples.

Home again after a busy week away, I am very inspired to continue our work to further integrate the SDGs into our day-to-day business and beyond, by continuing to share our sustainability know-how with customers and partners and working with them to create a better tomorrow for all.

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