Ireland’s Nordic strategy to deepen co-operation on climate and energy

Coveney says the countries share a commitment to global action on justice, conflict prevention and multilateralism

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: he said Ireland’s recently-adopted higher climate ambitions were closely aligned with those of Nordic countries. Photograph: Getty Images

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: he said Ireland’s recently-adopted higher climate ambitions were closely aligned with those of Nordic countries. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Government is to deepen co-operation with Nordic countries, especially through increased co-operation on addressing climate change and becoming “a collective voice for a more secure, just, fair and sustainable world”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney announced the Nordic strategy in a virtual event on Wednesday. It is designed to enhance Ireland’s bilateral and multilateral engagement with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden under the Global Ireland initiative.

Joined by representatives from the Nordic states, the Minister noted already strong trading relationships and the potential to grow “as our economies recover from the pandemic and address ambitious climate action goals”.

Referring to “a natural kinship between our people”, Mr Coveney said the countries shared “unshakeable commitment” to global activism on values, climate, justice, conflict prevention and multilateralism. This also recognised interdependence on the natural world and the sea, he added.

He characterised Ireland and the Nordics “as natural partners whose technological and scientific expertise is capable of creating a sustainable green future”.

The State currently has trade worth more than €15 billion annually with the Nordics, which collectively make up the world’s 11th largest economy. Mr Coveney said there was no reason why this would not double by 2030, if not sooner. In a post-Brexit Europe, the Nordics “are in a sense our home market”, he said.

Democracy

He also cited long-standing values shared internationally at the UN and in other international bodies in seeking to promote peace, development and democracy.

Ireland’s recently-adopted higher climate ambitions were closely aligned with those of Nordic countries, Mr Coveney said, which meant complemented expertise could easily be deployed in scaling up offshore wind energy, in developing smart electricity grids and on marine research.

In the context of shared environmental challenges, he said Ireland had applied for observer status on the Arctic Council, which oversees environmental protection of one of the world’s most important ecosystems.

Norwegian minister for foreign affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide said Ireland was a natural partner for Norway on human rights, climate change and “multilateral structures which are under pressure”. Ireland was “our most like-minded partners on the UN Security Council”, she added.

The European green deal was at the core of its growth strategy, which was embedded by green know-how and technologies which Norway was already sharing with Ireland. Co-operation was easy, Ms Søreide added, because the countries had the same landscape and level of growth backed with “a strong political will to make this work”.

Norwegian companies had unique energy and maritime capabilities, and were ready to contribute to Ireland’s green transition, reflected in Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, Statkraft, already having a strong presence in the country.

Collaborate

The strategy seeks to collaborate on developing sustainable carbon-neutral cities, on halting biodiversity loss and “mitigating the effects of climate change on our oceans and preventing pollution, including marine litter”.

It commits to facilitating “business-to-business exchanges in green transition and growth in renewable energy, including in areas such as hydropower, wind energy, and hydrogen exploration”.

Ireland is also to seek Nordic support for a new oceans funding initiative to explore the potential of “the blue economy” for developing countries including small island developing states.

A key priority of the strategy is to grow Ireland’s reputation across Nordic counties through enhanced promotion of culture, heritage and other linkages, including the Irish diaspora.