Greening the economy

Nordic experiences and challenges

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After the recent financial and economic crisis, greening the economy has become a major focus for international and national discussions: How to combine forceful and effective action to meet climate change and other environmental challenges with stronger and more sustainable economic development, in both developed and developing countries. This synthesis report on the Nordic countries' environmental policy experiences, focuses on the use of economic instruments and how this policy has contributed to the integration of environmental concerns into economic growth and development policies. The report demonstrates that the Nordic countries have been successful in achieving substantial reductions in several major pollutants and clear improvements in local and regional environmental quality, while maintaining an internationally respectable rate of economic growth. This decoupling of economic development from growth in emissions has been achieved through a range of policy instruments, with a strong and increasing element of economic, market-based instruments. The challenge, and the opportunity, for the Nordic countries is to strengthen and deepen such policies, with even more effective design of and combination of policy instruments, to deal with new and remaining threats to the local, national and international environment. The study was carried out by Vista Analyse AS and commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment.




The report shows that the Nordic countries since the 1970s and until today have achieved substantial emissions reductions and improved local and regional environmental quality, and at the same time they have had an economic growth at the average OECD level or above. Growth in emissions to air has been decoupled from the economic growth. During the 1970s and 1980s mainly command and control policy instruments were used, but since then economic instruments have played an increasing role in the countries’ environmental policy. The report presents an overview of this policy development, and discusses to what extent the socalled “Nordic model” has contributed to this and the relatively high focus on clean environment.


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