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16. Further opportunities for Nordic collaboration towards climate neutrality in the Nordic region

In addition to the opportunities identified in the previous sector chapters addressing the main sector challenges across the Nordic countries, we recommend increased Nordic collaboration in the following:
  • a study on Nordic scenarios for climate neutrality (at the Nordic level).
In this stock-take report, we have given an overview of the five Nordic countries’ pathways towards climate neutrality in the different sectors. As shown in the report, many of the challenges are shared across countries, calling for knowledge-sharing and collaboration across the Nordics. Moreover, regarding topics such as CCS, cross-Nordic collaboration is imperative to fully realise the potential of the full value-chain.
To identify all the areas of high value for further Nordic collaboration, a natural follow-up to this project is a Nordic-level study on scenarios for climate neutrality, aligned with previous work done by Nordic Energy Research (Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios, 2021
Wråke, M., Karlsson, K., Kofoed-Wiuff, A., Bolkesjø, T.F., Lindroos, T.J., Hagberg, M., Simonsen, M.B., Unger, T., Tennbakk, B., Jåstad, E.O., Lehtilä, A., Putkonen, N. & Koljonen, T. (2021). Nordic Clean Energy Scenarios: Solutions for Carbon Neutrality. Nordic Energy Research. Retrieved from, https://norden.diva-potal.org/smash/get/diva2:1589875/FULLTEXT02.pdf 
). The central research questions of this study could be:
o   Ignoring national borders, what combination of initiatives in the different sectors achieves climate neutrality in the Nordic region by 2040/2050?
o   What are the consequences for national climate policy?
The study would be a theoreti­cal/hypo­thetical exercise, but it could highlight areas of high value for Nordic collaboration and pinpoint areas where Nordic solutions are more efficient/better/less costly, compared to national solutions. It could also support a regional Nordic target year for climate neutrality, pushing national governments to implement more ambitious policies and adopt more ambitious targets.
  • Knowledge-sharing on efficient climate policy collaboration between government levels
In the chapter on Domestic transport, one of the recommendations is about analysing and comparing multi-level governance frameworks. That recommendation is not only relevant for the transport sector but also for all the other sectors. Many government levels are involved in the implementation of climate policy initiatives in the Nordic countries, and cooperation between them is key to efficient and effective implementation. In some of the Nordic countries, e.g. Denmark, municipalities are formulating their own climate targets and strategies, in some cases setting more ambitious targets than the national government
Ea Energianalyse (2023, April 17). Analyse af kommunernes CO2-reduktionsbidrag til 70%- målsætningen i 2030. Retrieved from, https://concito.dk/files/media/document/Rul%201%20kommunernes%20bidrag%20til%2070%25%20m%C3%A5let_05_04_2023.pdf
. In this case, without efficient collaboration between municipalities and the national government, municipalities’ efforts might be hindered by national regulation and/or strategies.
The Nordic Council of Ministers could commission a study on collaboration between government levels on climate policy initiatives and strategies. The study should result in best-practice examples and recommendations for efficient collaboration across government levels on climate policy initiatives/strategies.
  • Coordination and transparency on assumptions for climate neutrality strategies and pathways in the Nordic countries
National strategies and pathways towards climate neutrality depend on and rely on assumptions about the development in other countries. If these assumptions are incorrect, the viability of national plans changes. For example, this report has described the challenges related to overreliance on the Norwegian hydropower battery (see the chapter on energy). To avoid these issues, the Nordic Council of Ministers could help further transparency in assumptions in climate neutrality strategies across the Nordic countries by, for example, maintaining an updated list of key experts in climate and energy ministries across the Nordic region. Due to issues such as language differences, it can be hard for government employees to find, access and understand their neighbouring countries’ strategies and plans. Having access to an updated list of experts in government that they can reach out to, could alleviate these issues.
  • Coordination of value chains on waste, CCS and bioenergy across the Nordics to enhance efficiency and economies of scale yields in terms of money, energy and GHG emissions
  • Increased knowledge-sharing (“best practice”) and collaboration on addressing consumption-based emissions in the Nordic countries
Across the Nordic countries, there are few policies and strategies targeting consumption-based emissions. Addressing these emissions is important not just for reaching climate neutrality in the Nordic region but also for contributing to global emission reductions.
The Nordic Council of Ministers could further this agenda by commissioning comparative studies on how consumption-based emissions are addressed in the different countries and provide best-practice examples and cases of what such policies could look like and what their impact on emissions have been. Such a study should also address the issue of a fair and just transition – e.g. how to develop such policies in a way that does not have adverse social consequences.  
  • Collaboration on a just and fair transition, incl. more research on making carbon taxes and pricing fair
Finally, there is a need for pooled resources on, and further investigation into, ensuring a just and fair transition across the Nordic region. As all the Nordic countries must intensify their efforts towards reaching climate neutrality, the risks of adverse and regressive effects of policies and initiatives multiply, for example policies that affect low-income more than high-income groups. Research/studies funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers could, for example, consider how to develop and implement fair and just carbon taxation without regressive effects.