A New Discussion for Ambition Goals
By John Kornerup Bang, SVP Sustainability Transformation, Stora Enso
Stora Enso is a Principal Partner and an active member of World Climate Summit, contributing to innovative solutions to combat climate change and environmental degradation. John Kornerup Bang will participate in the Opening Plenary Session ‘From Glasgow to Sharm El Sheikh - Tracking Progress on Implementation towards Net Zero’ on Day 1 of World Climate Summit 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
“The climate crisis requires system change solutions. World Climate Summit is a key platform for us to ensure cross value chain collaboration that is action oriented.”
- John Kornerup Bang, SVP Sustainability Transformation, Stora Enso
With COP27, the focus continues to be delivering against the 1.5-degree ambition. Countries as well as companies should have proof of actions that will deliver this goal. However, there is still a gap that the UN has identified: the current trajectory is close to 3 degrees or, at best, 2.5 with all current pledges.
It is clear that urgent actions are needed to strengthen implementation and close the gap with a common aim to create a resilient planet. What is hazy are the best and most viable paths of execution – reduction of energy consumption, greener infrastructures and equipment, smarter supply chains and transport, recycling and reuse, protection of communities and habitats and measure, measure, measure. Alongside global corporate leaders, these are steps Stora Enso is already taking.
We categorically share the ambition to curb climate warming, however, propose that the conversation could be changed. 192 countries plus the European Union have joined the Paris Agreement. Companies and investors are showing an ever-growing commitment, and younger generations are demonstrating an iron will to fight climate change. Then why are we still so far from realising the ambitions of the Paris accord?
Not just about taking away the bad – but adding the good
The answer is not simple. Today, most of the conversation focuses on what we should do less of, reduce or completely stop. While that is important, it will not create a future climate-resilient economy where 10 billion people can prosper. We need to also focus on what we should do more of, what we need to invest in and scale. We know this, to a large extent, when it comes to energy – but it also implies a material transition, a food system transition and a whole new way of building and developing urban areas.
To shift the conversation – and zoom in on what more to do – one prerequisite is that we can measure and compare different solutions and determine the positive impacts of a given product. Some call this the handprint (contrary to footprint, referring to negative impact).
The handprint gives us a way to evaluate product by product from extraction and material use through production and supply chain to end-of-life to understand the impacts. This in turn can influence and steer decisions in product design and development in the choice of material, energy use, processing, product usability and ways to lengthen product lifetime.
Additionally, carbon pricing of embodied carbon will be key to providing important levers to assess and modify, among other things, material systems and incentivise choosing products that contribute positively to society and nature.
Ultimately, handprint and carbon pricing of embodied carbon combined can help to drive us towards the innovations and solutions to invest in and subsequently scale up to achieve the positive impacts that can truly help to change the climate trajectory.
Scaling up the paths for positive impact
We need to reduce the bad, no contest. But we also need to advance the good and find feasible and scalable ways to do so.
Stora Enso’s foundation is sustainable forestry and creating renewable products and solutions that serve ever-increasing societal needs. Products from trees store carbon and can have multiple lifetimes. Fiber-based packaging is a strong viable alternative to plastic. Wooden building provides a new model in creating a better carbon equation in the raw material, construction process and carbon capture. Innovation in biomaterials is picking up pace to provide solutions that can, for example, replace energy-intensive graphite in electric batteries.
We have long been using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool for measuring environmental impacts of our products. However, the LCA may not include the wider systemic impacts or closer investigation of the positive effects. Building on this, Stora Enso’s Packaging Materials Division participated in a handprint methodology development project from 2018-2021 led by VTT Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd and LUT University to assess handprints for our European business units. Overall, results point to significant carbon handprint potential – as much as 7.8 Mt CO2eq. in 2020 – enabling customers and consumers to use paperboard packaging materials to consequently lower their own carbon footprint.*
On the broader horizon, Stora Enso’s sustainability framework provides a long-term direction to help shape markets and steer innovation and advocacy. We will continue to focus heavily on meeting science-based targets in key priority areas of climate change, biodiversity and circularity. On top of that, we want to contribute proactively to solving global challenges and deliver value, looking at how positive sustainability impacts can be accelerated.
*Considering the uncertainty in the results due to the nature of the study (methodology development), the handprint should be treated as indicative. See more here: VTT Technology 392: The environmental handprint approach to assessing and communicating the positive (vttresearch.com)
About Stora Enso
Stora Enso is a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper for a range of industries and applications worldwide. Stora Enso contributes to the transformation of the materials system in three areas where it has the biggest impact and opportunities: climate change, biodiversity, and circularity.
Learn more: www.storaenso.com/en/sustainability
About the author
John Kornerup Bang John is Senior Vice President at Stora Enso leading the sustainability transformation. Stora Enso is a renewable materials company using wood fiber in various configurations which can substitute fossil-based materials in the economy. John has more than 20 years of experience working on using sustainability to drive growth and innovation and hence enables solutions that can scale. John comes from 10 years as Director for sustainability strategy and climate change at Maersk servicing inter alia two years as an advisor to Ban Ki Moon’s high-level panel for sustainable transportation.