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Speech by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo at the opening of the COP28 Finland Pavilion

Government Communications Department
Publication date 1.12.2023 12.37

Action Over Words – Speech by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo at the opening of the COP28 Climate Conference Finland Pavilion, 1 December 2023. Subject to changes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, esteemed guests, dedicated participants of COP28,

It is a great pleasure for me to take part in the inauguration of this COP28 Finland Pavilion. This is the first time ever that Finland has a national pavilion at COP. In this pavilion, we want to share Finland's journey and commitment to sustainability. We want to highlight what can be achieved when actions speak louder than words.

I am truly proud to be here, and I would like to sincerely thank all those who have made this possible: the Confederation of Finnish Industries, the Climate Leadership Coalition, the Finnish Chamber of Commerce, Business Finland, different ministries, and of course the Finnish companies that are strongly committed to tackling climate change with their actions and innovative solutions.

I am also happy to see that so many partners representing civil society organisations, from Finland but also internationally, are contributing to our pavilion’s exciting programme for these coming two weeks. Combating climate change requires cooperation from all of us together.

At the same time as we are celebrating the opening of our national pavilion, I would like to remind us all why we are actually here, at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 28. I wish the negotiators every success in their very important task. Time is pressing and we need action.

We Finns are a Northern people of few words. We believe in letting our actions do the talking. Since 1990, we have managed to reduce our CO2 emissions by an impressive 36 per cent, all the while experiencing economic growth. Around 90 per cent of our electricity already comes from fossil-free sources. We hope this example serves as encouragement for others across the world to take bold climate action.

We have set ourselves a very ambitious target of being climate neutral by 2035. The Finnish Government is strongly committed to this target, which is also set in the Finnish Climate Act. Finland is proud to set ambitious climate targets without increasing the cost of everyday life or weakening our competitive edge.

Achieving this target requires efficient collaboration between the public and private sectors – a partnership that shows our commitment to overcoming challenges through unity. This collaboration is one of the strengths of Finnish society. I am proud to note that this pavilion is also a joint effort, with very strong input from actors in our private sector that are committed to the green transition.

Our clear environmental and climate policy objectives underscore our dedication to investing in clean and renewable energy solutions. We invest heavily in clean technologies, sustainable bioeconomy, and circular economy practices. We aim to allocate 4 per cent of our GDP to research and innovation by 2030.

My Government has set a goal for Finland to become a major player in clean energy in Europe. We will double our clean electricity production and become a European leader in green hydrogen. We are promoting wind power and solar power investments. Solar energy has a great deal of untapped potential as a renewable energy source of the future. Finland also has a lot of expertise in battery technologies and energy storage.

One of the priorities of the Government’s climate policy is developing solutions that reduce emissions and capture carbon in industry and energy production. The efficient use of resources is also a cornerstone of our strategy.  

Finland is the most heavily forested country in Europe. With our forest industry, high-level expertise in technology, and the efficient use of biomass, we can lead the way in the capture and utilisation of carbon dioxide. 

Finland is also a major producer of minerals for the green transition in the EU. This gives us the capacity to contribute to different value chains necessary for the transition. Here, circular economy solutions are essential, as are sustainable and inclusive mining practices. In this area, our companies and research organisations can offer a wide range of solutions and expertise. 

In 2016, Finland became the first country in the world to prepare a national roadmap to a circular economy. Put briefly, in a circular economy, materials are considered a scarcity and are used to make new products over and over again. We firmly believe that circular economy solutions are indispensable for achieving our ambitious climate targets, while at the same time tackling the biodiversity loss and pollution challenges.

I am delighted to witness how dedicated our businesses are to tackling the climate crisis head-on. Many of our companies rank among the most sustainable globally, leading the way in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices. This not only gives them a competitive edge in the transition but also showcases the alignment of environmental responsibility with business success. A number of these companies are also here in this pavilion.

Across sectors, Finnish businesses are actively developing solutions to cut their emissions. This commitment is reflected in the public and private sectors’ unique joint effort to create sectoral low-carbon roadmaps, supporting our national targets with concrete plans and actions. These roadmaps also show tremendous potential for innovation, as the market for new clean products and services continues to grow. 

Tackling climate change requires significant investments across sectors and national borders, and Finland offers a good example of this. Our clean and efficient electricity system, coupled with a very skilled labour force and world-class know-how in various industrial sectors, has attracted planned investments beyond 200 billion euros – over 70 per cent of our GDP. Half of these planned investments are related to wind power. This shows how attractive Finland is for investments in the clean transition.

Finnish businesses are strategically positioned to offer cutting-edge technologies and solutions that drive emission reductions. This is the positive impact we like to call a "carbon handprint." Looking forward, Finland not only aims to meet its ambitious climate targets but also seeks to grow its carbon handprint by delivering these technologies and solutions internationally. 

Allow me to also express my personal pride and satisfaction in the journey that the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action has made over the past years. This coalition was launched in 2019, when I was Finance Minister of Finland. Since then, it has evolved into a global community of finance ministries and policy professionals committed to driving climate action through fiscal policy and public finance. It stands as a token of how a small country can bring about significant global change through collaboration.

In my Government’s Programme, we look even further: the Government aims to halt biodiversity loss through cooperation and will turn positive impacts on the natural environment into an export product. Our aim is that the entire world can utilise our expertise related to positive nature handprints in addition to carbon footprints.

In conclusion, I warmly welcome you all to the Finland Pavilion, where our actions, innovations, and solutions show our commitment to making a difference. Let us seize this opportunity for collaboration, exchange of knowledge, and collective action.

Thank you, and may our shared commitment to action lead to success at COP28 and beyond.