Sustainable voices

Thor Hugnæss

Fortum Consumer Solutions, Thor Hugnæss

What was your a-ha moment that made you become engaged in sustainability?

At some point realized that people, not companies and politicians, are the real catalysts for change. Since policy-makers and companies largely respond to people’s preferences, it starts with us, not “them”. It’s about how we vote, what products we buy, and how we behave. Internalizing this view-point really gave me a strong sense of empowerment and motivation.

What is your single best tip for someone who wants to do more for the environment on a personal level?

My best tip is to use your consumer power and buy sustainable alternatives. This is an incredibly powerful tool that we all possess, which I think is not getting enough attention. Every time you buy a non-sustainable alternative, you are giving companies a reason to continue business-as-usual. Every time you buy a sustainable alternative, you are giving strong economic incentives for whole industries to change.

What is the most critical technological breakthrough that needs to happen for the world to reach the 1,5 degree goal?

It’s my understanding that large scale Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is part of most climate models limiting global warming to 2 degrees or below. This technology is still struggling with cost-efficiency. A technological breakthrough in CCS-technology is, therefore, one important piece of the climate-puzzle.

What will this breakthrough demand from us as a society?

Good question.. Technological breakthroughs in CCS will require heavy investments in R&D, but also policies that foster a market for CCS. As consumers we can, for instance, buy carbon removal certificates and vote for political parties with supporting policies.

What is your company’s most impactful contribution to fight climate change?

Everything Fortum does is anchored in our strategy to drive the change for a cleaner world and accelerate this change by reshaping the energy system, improving resource efficiency, and providing smart solutions.​ We do a lot in different areas; there is the carbon-capturing project in Norway and we give electric vehicle users in Europe access to over 135 0000 charging points to charge their cars and enable them to reduce their use of fossil fuel, just to name two examples.

In your industry, what do you think will be the most groundbreaking change over the next 10 years?

I think advancements in battery technology will play a key role in the energy sector in the next decade. One issue today is that solar and wind are not reliable sources of energy. As a result, we often rely on fossil-based energy production as a backup. Efficient energy storage can help us “cut the string” to fossil-based energy production. It will also play a key role in the electrification of the mobility sector.

Which brand (in general) do you think is at the forefront when it comes to sustainability?

I am not sure I will point at one brand, but it really feels like there is a transformation going on across markets towards more sustainable products and services, and a lot of companies are recognizing that they have to transform in order to adapt.

What makes you climate positive about the future?

I feel that there has been some kind of “awakening” in the last year or two. I really believe that what we are seeing will persist and drive change, and not just fade away. Previously there has been a lot of good talking, but too little walking. Now there are signs that our feet are really starting to move. Green parties are gaining traction and sustainable brands are growing much faster than comparable brands. It’s exciting times, but we are in a hurry!

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