Students demand climate leadership from companies

Sally Bohlin is a third-year mechanical engineering student at the Royal Institute of Technology. She is one of the students behind the initiative Swedish Student Manifest (Svenska Studentmanifestet). Members of the initiative demand that their future employers take responsibility for the climate. The Manifest itself is a Swedish version of a similar manifest launched recently by a group of French students.

What do you demand from companies, and why?

- Sweden has what it takes to be a world leader on climate change and to act in accordance with scientific requirements. It means that we should achieve net zero emissions by 2030, which requires halving emissions every four years, according to Johan Rockström’s carbon law and other sources. A company that cannot support this should not call itself sustainable.

How many have signed the Manifest so far?

- Around 3000-4000 right now, but we have just had a break so now it’s time to get busy again.

What kind of feedback do you get?

- We have received very positive reactions, both from students, private individuals and companies. Some companies contact us to say that they want to meet the demands and that they want to have a dialog with us.

What are the three most important things that companies should think of if they want to attract the students who have signed the Manifest?

  1. They should take the climate issue seriously, and set clear goals.
  2. They should be able to demonstrate that their employees have an opportunity to make a difference – sustainability work should not be only a marketing trick.
  3. They should prove that their purpose is actually to do something good for the world, not only to reduce their bad impacts.

- We really want to do something good at our future workplaces. You cannot do a bunch of good stuff as an individual and then destroy the climate as a professional.

Do you think that the companies that cannot meet your demands are getting anxious?

- I think that it is an eye-opener for some. On the radio, I spoke with a representative from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise who was convinced that Swedish companies already are at the forefront, even though we are not even close to what the science requires. We have to close this gap somehow. It is interesting that so many people find it shocking that we want the society to do what the science demands.

Read the debate article of the Swedish Student Manifest in Dagens Nyheter here.