Sini: Corporations would be quite happy if through talking to NGOs, they can identify what the core issues are, and then they have their own ways to deal with them either through discussion in the next strategy session or to mitigate risk with a communication strategy. And NGOs usually want to see outcomes and change, and hopefully something quite measurable in the short term. And if that doesn't come out fairly soon after the talks, then they probably would feel disappointed.
Sini: I've been in numerous constructive talks and have done campaigns that try to focus on the positive and solutions and they just don't get visibility in the same way as conflicts and confrontations do. So I think that's one reason. Probably another reason is that NGOs quite often are somehow pioneers in a new issue, and raise something on the agenda that hasn't been discussed or taken seriously before. And at that point in the discussion, the issue doesn't resonate very much and their demands are not met.
When you're in a position like that, it forces you a bit into a more confrontational direction. And I don't think that's a bad thing, because activism is really a key component of a resilient democracy. We need activists to present a real challenge to the current ways of thinking and actions. But I also agree that it's definitely too tilted in that direction. And I do take it as a challenge upon us in the environmental movement to try and make those positive approaches more interesting.
Sini: What's very clear is that oil companies finally can also read the writing on the wall. I think actions from especially investors and banks have been leading and influencing this change. To get credit and investment at the moment, oil companies need to show some kind of a low carbon pathway. And I think that is the main reason why we see this now.
In order for these to really be credible, I would need to see that oil companies are also advocating for strong climate policies. They would really need to show that they're no longer trying to delay climate action on the level of the society and then align their pathways with the 1.5 degree Paris agreement. That would be truly convincing. For now, I think my analysis is that they have finally understood that the world is changing. And at some pace, we are getting rid of fossil fuels.
Sini: I absolutely agree. Climate change needs all hands on deck. It’s not possible to achieve the change that we need to see within any one sector, or certainly within just the NGO-environmental movement bubble. We need to work much better together and try to identify bottlenecks and problems and find new kinds of solutions.
I think what makes the difference between a credible and not so credible scenario, or pathway or response to the sustainability programme would be that if your goal is clearly further away, such as 2030, or 2035, is there a credible pathway with milestones and a roadmap and also short term measures that will take you there? And I think if that is there, then we're usually talking about quite a good approach.
Sini: Well, I think it is changing already and has changed a lot. Look at climate change, and the polls done both in Nordic countries and around the world show a steady (like 70%) support from people almost across countries for strong climate policy. And that probably means that in any company a clear majority of the staff also want to do the right thing there. So the purpose is there. When these values become acknowledged on the corporate level, on the leadership level, it gives people the mandate to show their values at work. And when they do, then there's really a chance, for both (companies and NGOs) to explore, learn something new, and find better solutions. That to me is the key.
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