Understanding a world on fire

Understanding a world on fire

Understanding a world on fire

Understanding a world on fire

A war in Europe and polarised societies have set the world on fire and shaken democracies. As individuals, we have a whole new security situation to relate to. Malin Ekman, a US foreign correspondent, also reflects on the role the media have played in these new developments.

There was a time when many risks in our corner of the world felt so hypothetical, and many discussions so abstract, that it was easy to ask oneself: “When is something going to happen?”

That time has now passed. When Putin invaded Ukraine, we were confronted with the world’s destructive uncertainty, as if world history cracked down on us, taken our temperature, and heralded a ruthless, unstoppable future where nuclear threats could no longer be dismissed and where gas pipes could be blown up.

A ticking bomb

The last time I felt like that was on 9/11. I was 14 years old and on a family holiday in Phuket, my first trip outside Europe. We were staying in a basic apartment hotel. Mum turned on the TV set in the living room. Images of the planes colliding with the twin towers were shown over and over. I remember thinking that Thailand felt reassuringly distant, even though it seemed as if the whole world had been compressed into a ticking bomb.

That same feeling returned this spring.

My friend and colleague Per Bjurman from Aftonbladet says he intends to stand on his balcony on the 48th floor when the missiles come. If it happens, he says, we should be glad if we die; no one will survive such an apocalypse. He knows exactly how many minutes it takes for a nuclear warhead to reach Manhattan from Russia (30) and the destructive impact of a modern nuclear weapon (100 times greater than that of the Hiroshima bomb).

Understanding a world on fire

This says something not only about the neurotic nature of our friendship but also about the uncertainty the world is struggling to get accustomed to. It was Per who told me about the invasion. I was heading for Orlando on a plane with a lousy internet connection when I received his message: “Oh no, Russia’s attacking Kyiv now!”

It had seemed so unlikely only a few hours earlier. Friends back home sent messages to the effect of thank goodness Trump isn’t president when this happens, at least; there’s no telling how things would turn out then. In the United States I heard acquaintances and interview subjects say that if Trump had still been president, Putin might not have dared to invade.

Both are pushing America first

While both analyses have their merits, it’s important to remember that the geopolitical differences between Trump and Biden are relatively small. Both are pushing the “America first” message.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan, initiated by Trump and implemented by Biden, demonstrated how seriously the US took that slogan. Afghans clung to aircraft wings out of fear of being left behind in a country where, every day, people were being stripped of the rights that had slowly being secured for them under US control. Everyone was asking themselves: “Is this what American foreign policy looks like?”

The war in Ukraine complicated the answer to this question. The US was not ready to intervene at the cost of a third world war, but nor was it prepared to stand by and leave a country being invaded by a world power to its own fate. It sent weapons and imposed sanctions and formed a united front with the other Western nations.

But even though it was unprecedented, some important perspectives were lost in the way the incident was reported.

The months come and go, and for those of us who don’t have to live under constant physical threat, the fear is cyclical. One move by Putin, and the sense of security is ripped away. One threat of nuclear weapons – be it direct or indirect – and the fear returns. The geopolitical situation is so alarming and at the same time so fascinating that it’s almost easy to forget the domestic political polarisation here in the US. That, too, is prompting legitimate fears about what type of world will emerge; a polarisation which in many ways is leaving its mark all over the world and is evoking fear and concern for where our world is headed.

The storming of the Capitol is a low watermark in contemporary US history. But even though it was unprecedented, some important perspectives were lost in the way the incident was reported, political parallels that help explain why it could happen.

Comparisons with the claims made by Hillary Clinton and parts of the Democratic Party establishment that Trump’s 2016 election win was illegitimate are often dismissed as unfair, but they are important for understanding the political dynamics at play.

Effecting faith in democracy

Hillary Clinton conceded the election without urging her supporters to storm the Congress and stop Trump, though she did dismiss her opponent as an “illegitimate president” and claimed “he knows” that he stole the election.

The accusations were put forward in more sophisticated ways and without directly or indirectly agitating violence, but still they have as much significance for the American people’s faith in their democracy as they do for the populist right wing’s argument of a corrupt elite throwing stones from glass houses.

It didn’t help that parts of the years-long reporting on Trump’s alleged collusion with the Kremlin – which won The New York Times and The Washington Post a joint Pulitzer Prize – proved to be based on idle rumour and false information. Or that Hillary Clinton helped fund the report from which much of that information came. This passed relatively unnoticed, but revelations about the news media’s shortcomings are important for understanding the resentment towards them and how they feed polarisation.

Many didn’t report

The social media platforms also play a key role. After allowing the spread of disinformation in the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook assumed an almost self-flagellating role in the 2020 election. In response to a request from the Biden campaign, it decided to actively suppress the story about the documents found on Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s laptop; information which I had managed to have corroborated by a Facebook employee.

Several reputable media with high credibility in established circles chose not to report the story on the grounds that the information could not be verified. Others chose to dismiss it as disinformation; a precaution that wasn’t taken in the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on Russia.

It’s harder to discuss the undermining of trust to which we in the media – sometimes routinely – contribute.

As journalists, we have a responsibility to reflect on our own role in these developments. It’s easy to talk about the undermining of trust which Donald Trump inflicts on democracy by disqualifying election results, but it’s harder to discuss the undermining of trust to which we in the media – sometimes routinely – contribute. The tendency to demonise and alienate rather than to understand and examine is also a price we pay for democracy, because it plays a part in dividing and agitating people.

A crass political game

In a panel discussion I recently participated in at the Swedish consulate in New York, a woman in the audience asked me: “How is it possible that so many elected Republicans seem to be ignoring the storming of the Capitol, as if they couldn’t care less?” It’s a relevant question.

As well as having to do with crass political games – even Republicans who detest Trump need to have the support of his electoral base – the answer has to do with the resentment at how the storming was portrayed and in what proportion compared to other news items.

For those who seem to ignore the storming, it’s almost as bad or even worse that Democrats turned a blind eye when, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, a radical left vandalised cities, tore down barricades and set fire to police vehicles. They even occupied entire blocks and forced the police out of their own buildings.

More at stake

Still answering that woman’s question: The hate for the other side runs so deep that we forgive our own side’s mistakes. It’s human nature and, at the same time, a form of combat psychology, a dynamic similar to that found in global conflicts. The drama playing out in the world is putting more at stake; the question is no longer: “When is something going to happen?”

For my own part, I find it hard to imagine that I won’t relive the claustrophobic fear I experienced in Phuket and on that plane to Orlando, the one that comes with the feeling that the world is spinning out of control. As an individual, that’s a private matter

I have to deal with myself. As a journalist, it’s something bigger. Our responsibility is to communicate what we see with curiosity and consequential neutrality, and to help our audience understand the world as it is rather than repeat how it is usually presented.

Author Malin Ekman

Malin Ekman
US Correspondent, SvD
Years in Schibsted: 13

Not in my backyard

Not in my backyard

Only since the 1950s, energy consumption has increased fivefold, and the need continues to grow. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2022, it’s this: abundant energy at reasonable prices cannot be taken for granted.

Not in my backyard

With an energy crisis in Europe, as an effect of the war in Ukraine, the importance of power has never been more evident. But as new sources of energy emerge – old obstacles appear. Protests are stopping new projects.

Everything was different,” said my grandfather the last time we spoke. That was in the summer of 1999. Napster had just been launched and the war in Kosovo was coming to an end – as was my grandfather’s life. I was sitting by his bedside and had just asked him what the world was like for him as a child, living by a small fjord on the west coast of Norway almost 100 years ago. He paused for a moment, thinking. “We had no cars,” he said. “No planes, no TV. No radio, either.”

He didn’t mention the internet. He may have heard of it, but it never featured in his life, which might sound staggering to young people today. But then he said something even more staggering: “We didn’t even have electricity.”

Not in my backyard

Although wind energy may sound benign, the extent of human intervention involved is huge. A wind farm requires extensive land areas. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman.

Everything really was different before

I tried to imagine what life was like in those days, in a small, dimly lit house on a gravel road, with the ocean down below and the smell of dried fish, tar and sheep dung in the yard. It was hard enough for a city kid like me who grew up in the seventies, but probably impossible for my own children.

One thing the technological innovations my grandfather rattled off have in common is that they have all accelerated social development. They have revolutionised transport, information and communication, speeded up the pace of globalisation, and pushed the world forward from societies built on agriculture, hunting and fishing to ones built on knowledge, industry, technology, innovation and import and export.

But there’s something else they have in common: they need energy, and lots of it. Only since the 1950s, energy consumption has increased fivefold, and the need continues to grow. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2022, it’s this: abundant energy at reasonable prices cannot be taken for granted.

Energy in every drop

My home country of Norway has been blessed with a unique supply of energy for more than 100 years. At the beginning of the 1900s, someone realised they could derive lots of cheap electricity from the country’s thousands of waterfalls, and speculators with foreign backers travelled around the country buying up those waterfalls on a large scale. This was the backdrop for developing what became known as the “panic laws”, a set of new laws that gave the state control over the country’s natural resources.

Much later, at the end of the 1960s, oil and gas were discovered on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Once again, the Norwegian state made some smart moves, and Norway gradually became self-sufficient and stinking rich on fossil and non-renewable energy. For my entire lifetime, Norway has enjoyed cheap energy, so cheap that my generation burn their feet on heated bathroom floors and leave all the houselights on when they go off on holiday. But now, in 2022, even the energy nation Norway is facing an energy crisis. Other nations have also prospered oil and gas, among them Russia.

Not in my backyard

The green energy technologies we hear about so much – wind, solar and wave – account for just over 2% of global energy production. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman.

Winter is coming

Over the past 50 years, Germany has made itself totally dependent on Russian gas. There’s been no lack of warnings; even president Trump warned against this dependence in a speech to the UN General Assembly in 2018, only to be met with laughter from the German delegation.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine drove a huge wedge between Russian and Nato, it became clear that Vladimir Putin would leverage Europe’s dependence as part of his war strategy. By choking off energy supplies to Europe, he could try to pressure Western countries to lift sanctions against Russia. As an added bonus, he could expect divisions to arise among European politicians and capitalise on people’s fury at soaring electricity prices. He could destabilise and undermine his opponents.

Energy rationing

Towards the end of the summer of 2022, the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which carries most of Russia’s gas to Europe, was shut down for a few days of maintenance. Germany responded by reactivating its environmentally unfriendly coal mines to make up for some of the supplies lost. But it wasn’t enough. The dry summer had made it difficult to ship coal by river transport. Similar problems arose in the United States and China. The industry was hit by energy rationing, and European leaders wearing solemn expressions warned of a cold winter ahead for most people.

Putin didn’t reopen the gas pipeline; he would rather burn it all up than export it to Europe. Then there were the explosions of the Nord Stream 1 pipelines, late September. They did not affect the amount of gas being delivered, and whether they are part of Putin’s strategic plan, remains to be seen. But they certainly made the geopolitical tension grow even more.

Norway – the largest supplier

At this time, Norway was all of a sudden the largest supplier of gas to the European continent. If the underwater pipelines from Norway to the continent would blow up too, that would mean a cold and dark winter in Europe. On the verge of winter 2022, Russian citizens are being arrested along the Norwegian coast, flying drones with high-tech cameras over critical infrastructure.

Again, we do not know if this is organized espionage. But it sure illustrates the tense situation. Even with increased energy supplies from Norway, energy rationing seems inevitable. There’s simply not enough energy to meet Europe’s needs. European leaders have begged little Norway for more energy supplies, but Norway already supplies one-fifth of EU’s gas imports and is unable to deliver much more.

Moment of truth

When the war is over, few countries will have any confidence whatsoever in Russia as an energy supplier. Europe is determined to increase its energy production to make itself less dependent on Russia, but it’s impossible to make up for the loss of the Russian supplies in the short term.

Norway’s hydropower also supplies a lot of energy to Europe, but the levels in Norwegian water reservoirs haven’t been lower for 25 years. Even when it does rain, it’s not enough; the soil around the reservoirs is so dry that it absorbs whatever it can. The same applies to the rest of Europe in the wake of a record dry summer.

The European energy system is deficient and vulnerable. Everyone can see that, not least the Russian authorities – and they’re exploiting it. So, what should Europe do now?

Growing need

According to the EU’s European Environment Agency, (EEA), Europe’s energy consumption will be 11% higher in 2030 than it was in 2005. but the need for energy development in Europe exceeds that. When Russian supplies fail, Europe must undertake colossal development of its energy production. But how?

Everyone agrees that the world has to shift from fossil fuel production. It’s absolutely vital if we are to slow down global warming and everything it brings with it. On top of that, fossil fuel is one of the main sources of air pollution, which according to a recent study kills 6.5 million people annually. That’s about as many as the number of people who died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the course of two and a half years.

According to 2021 statistics from the International Energy Agency’s (IEA), oil accounts for 30.9% of global energy production, coal for 26.8% and natural gas for 23.2%. That amounts to over 80%. Biofuels and waste, nuclear and hydro make up the rest. The green energy technologies we hear about so much – wind, solar and wave – account for just over 2% of global energy production.

The EEA expects fossil fuel to dominate for a long time to come, but that’s not where the growth is happening; 60% of the growth in this period will come from renewable energy. So what will the energy market look like in a few decades from now?

Not in my backyard

Norway has been blessed with a unique supply of energy for more than 100 years. At the beginning of the 1900s, the country’s thousands of waterfalls were bought up on a large scale. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman.

New energy generation

A lot of research is looking at new forms of energy production, and there’s no shortage of good ideas. For example, the energy that solar winds hurl into space can be harnessed. On farms, cow manure and food waste can be decomposed and provide fertiliser for the soil and gas to power generators, or streets, squares and buildings can be laid with tiles that generate energy when people walk on them. Some researchers are looking at how to turn sewage into biofuel, others at how to do the same thing with algae. Clean hydrogen.

Systems are also being developed that will change how energy is distributed. For example, a new city district could have solar panels installed on all the building roofs – and in the walls for that matter. The energy from the panels could be stored in batteries. If an excavator cut a power cable from a large power plant outside the city, the power supply to that district would not be affected. It could distribute power between the buildings or even sell it. Systems like these could reduce the need for large-scale central power plants.

Combined, the newest technologies may make a valuable contribution to the overall problem, but so far none of them can generate enough energy to meet increasing needs. That situation may change, but the need for the more conventional forms of energy production will not disappear for a long, long time.

Back to the core

“The time of nuclear renaissance has come,” said French president Emmanuel Macron in February 2022. He promised to build 14 new large-scale nuclear power plants in addition to a number of small new-generation reactors. The workers he was addressing (this was two months before the presidential election, the high season for making election promises) applauded. Unlike wind farms, nuclear power plants mean jobs; first to build them, then to operate them.

But not everyone welcomes the nuclear renaissance. Many nature protection organisations are fighting it tooth and nail, and understandably so, given the serious impacts of the accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Moreover, radioactive waste from reactors poses a major and potentially hazardous problem. Many critics also point out that building a nuclear power plant takes years and that maintenance is costly. Moreover, the unusually warm rivers in France this summer made it difficult to cool reactors.

On the other hand, emissions from nuclear power plants and land use requirements are minimal, and they generate significant amounts of energy. For those reasons, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) believe they can’t be avoided if we want to achieve net zero emission targets.

That said, even the strongest supporters of nuclear power have to admit that the world needs other technologies, too, simply because the plants – unlike alternative technologies like windmills – take too long to develop.

Winds of change

Climate change agreements are key drivers of development, but profitability can hardly be overestimated.

There’s no doubt that renewable energy will grow significantly. It’s already attracting investors, and research and development financiers are now eyeing the potential to make huge profits at some point in the future. They seem to be particularly interested in five different energy sources: hydro, wind, solar, biowaste and geothermal energy.

If I were to invest in an energy production plant, I would want to know which technology can produce the most energy (revenues) over time for the total cost of building, operating and maintaining it (expenses). Or to put it another way: how to get the most energy for my money. This is called LCOE, or levelised cost of energy.

In the summer of 2021, the World Economic Forum concluded that renewable technologies are now also the cheapest, and that the costs are continuing to fall year on year. The difference can be further widened with tax incentives and the like. This means the old coal power plants and other fossil fuel sources would lose their competitiveness.

Offshore wind energy looks very promising, but the technology is still expensive and immature. The most profitable technologies right now are solar and onshore wind, which – unlike nuclear power plants – can be quickly developed. If the coal mines are shut down at the same fast pace at the same time as new nuclear power plants are built, there is still a chance of reaching the net zero emission target in 2050.

But there are many who are tilting at windmills.

All energy production entails human intervention

Although wind energy may sound benign, the extent of human intervention involved is huge. A wind farm requires extensive land areas. On top of that come the concrete, metals and minerals needed to build the windmills and the foundations they stand on.

Indeed, in 2019 wind energy was the subject of one of Norway’s most heated energy debates. A wind farm was to be developed on Haramsøya in Sunnmøre. The developer had been granted the necessary permit, but the local community (and gradually environmental activists from all over the country) protested against what they rightly called a destruction of nature. They sabotaged construction work, chained themselves to construction machinery and took legal action to stop the development, but to no avail.

The demonstrators on Haramsøya are part of a growing international trend. They are not necessarily opponents of wind energy (though some are, arguing that Norway should continue to invest solely in oil and gas); they just don’t want to have the windmills in their local community. Protest movements like these are referred to internationally as NIMBY (“not in my backyard”). Canada has seen a number of NIMBY actions against wind energy developments in Nova Scotia. Similar actions have been carried out elsewhere, from Australia to Florida. Everyone wants renewable energy, but no one wants it being produced in their neighbourhood.

If my grandfather were still alive, he could have looked straight out at the 150-metre-high windmills on Haramsøya. Perhaps it’s just as well he was spared from that.

Joacim Lund

Joacim Lund
Technology commentator, Aftenposten
Years in Schibsted: 17

Welcome to the sustainable future

Welcome to the sustainable future

Welcome to the sustainable future

Welcome to the sustainable future

While climate goals seem all the more hard to reach, experts say we need concrete narratives to show us what a sustainable future might look like. We need stories that explain what roles we as individuals can play – meet Ester in Stockholm 2050.

It’s the 1st of July 2050 and the sun is rising. Sunlight is slowly filtering through the reflective glass exterior, causing Ester to rub the sleep from her eyes. She asks her digital assistant for a cup of coffee before even getting out of bed, and hears the machine obligingly whir into action in the kitchen. We call our person of the future Ester. She is a fictional character who for research purposes is placed in a time and scenario where humans once again live sustainably and in tune with nature.

In Ester’s world the amount of global emissions has been halving every decade since 2020. Reports are published of sustainable food chains, improved water quality and balanced ecosystems. And the planet is far from exceeding the 1.5-degree global temperature by 2100.

Welcome to the sustainable future

But that century is still a long way off. The sunny day has begun, and draws attention to what lies outside the solar panel-clad windows. The timers in the kitchen tick away. The roof panels and the integrated solar panels that cover the facades and windows are all performing at full capacity.

“Should I work from home today or drive my electric bike or car to work?” Ester asks herself.

She decides to drive her small electric car, charged with self-generated electricity, to her hybrid office in the urban circle close by. Moving around the city is fast and easy because the traffic has been replaced by the new autonomous buses that provide a seamless shuttle service.

Everything within 15 minutes distance

In Ester’s city, no transport stretch takes longer than 15 minutes. Once known as decentralisation, this development is now regarded as commonplace. Little has been demolished to give the urban districts a chance to flourish; instead the catchword has been adaptation, and crops are now being cultivated on the rooftops side by side with solar panels.

“The 15-minute city” – isn’t that what they called it? Ester seems to recall reading about the model that was launched by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. But the fact that she has everything she needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride is far from a matter of course.

Car with solar panels

Ester’s car has solar panels on its roof, and the car body serves as a battery. Sometimes the car sends power to the grid, other times it uses the power to top up the battery, functioning like a communicating vessel. The car is connected to the grid and can drive autonomously in the most energy-efficient and climate-smart way, but on this particular day Ester prefers to drive herself and take an alternative route because she has the time and the weather is so nice.

She enjoys the greenery. Large squares and asphalted surfaces have been replaced with rain parks and cloudburst ponds that can handle sudden precipitation events, while trees, bushes and other vegetation regulate the temperature. Tree crowns offer shade, water tables work together in a canal-like system, and fields and bushes are full of sounds of buzzing and chirping like never before.

Whatever is new has been created from reuse, and circular systems mean that very few resources now go to waste.

She laughs when she thinks about the manicured lawns of the past; so rigid, time-consuming and water-intensive.

In the small urban core where houses and small office complexes are concentrated, old buildings have been renovated and modernised. Whatever is new has been created from reuse, and circular systems mean that very few resources now go to waste.

Items can be borrowed

Basement storage spaces are full of batteries and communally owned items that can be borrowed, such as tools and various types of electric bikes. There’s also a small car pool for driving distances that are too long nonetheless. Courtyards and storage facilities have been specially adapted to accommodate hydrogen storage, among other things, and on this particular day they’re all full of self-produced green energy. The turbines in the wind farm in the distance are standing still, but what does that matter on a day like this?

Ester listens to the silence of the city post-electrification. The air is high and clear despite the 25-degree temperature. The wide walking and cycling paths make it easy for her to quickly move between her home and the shops, recreational areas, cultural events, gym and office, so she rarely needs her little car in her everyday life, but she likes to know she can just take off whenever she wants to.

Many small cores

When it comes to food shopping, Ester can use a transport bike with an electric motor or have it delivered to her home by a bike delivery rider or an electric truck that doesn’t need to drive so far when a large urban core is replaced by many smaller ones.
Ester dreams of taking the train to Paris for her holiday. The journey only takes a few hours now, and she has heard that Europe is greener and more beautiful than it has been for decades.

But right now Ester is planning a picnic with friends in a local park. She turns up the volume of the music in the car while a news broadcast tells listeners what it used to be like, specifically in the 2020s when almost 50% of young people said they didn’t want to have children on account of the climate crisis, and about when young people’s concerns about global warming, ice melting and severe weather events destroyed their dreams.

It’s a new era now.

Even if we don’t know what the future will be like and Ester is just a fictional figure, this story is an attempt to describe the best outcome of the sustainable development goals which the world’s leaders adopted in 2015 and which mean meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Ester’s life may be idealistic, but it’s also a kind of vision, even though several of the planet’s limits have already been crossed.

We need narratives that make sustainability more concrete.

Now let’s return to our own time to meet Alexandra Nikoleris, associate senior lecturer, environmental and energy systems studies at Lund University, who has studied transition narratives, among other things. She believes that visions like the one about Ester have great value. “We need narratives that make sustainability more concrete so that we can write ourselves into narratives like these,” says Alexandra and adds: “A lot of research shows that most people today take climate change seriously and want something to be done about it but don’t know what, or what role they should play.”

That fact that we live in a narrative doesn’t have to mean that we can’t change it. The power of change lies in the narratives we choose to activate, believes author Mary Alice Arthur, who calls herself a story activist.

Another believer in the power of storytelling is Christiana Figueres, the lead architect of the Paris Agreement who now runs an organisation called Global Optimism. In her book, titled The future we choose: Surviving the climate crisis, she writes a story similar to the one about Ester, and in her most recent article she likens Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels to a smoking lung cancer patient who starts up his own tobacco plantation rather than quit smoking.

The pace of transition is too slow

To reduce the cognitive dissonance, the inner conflict between what we know and how we act; that is where these stories fulfil a purpose. But she also realises that many will push back if the narratives are expected to result in restrictions on our freedom of speech.

“That’s why collective narratives often work best. That people share their experiences on trains and when cycling together, for example,” she says.
In an ideal world, Sweden’s vision is to become the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation, but a lot still needs to be done to achieve its climate goals and realise this vision.

The overall aim is to achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by the year 2045 and thereafter negative emissions. To have a chance to experience at least some of what Ester can enjoy after 2050, there needs to be an annual reduction in emissions of 6-10%.

“The pace of climate transition remains too slow, and current policy is insufficient for achieving the climate goals,” writes the Swedish Climate Policy Council in its 2021 report.

At slightly lower rate

But wait a minute – Sweden’s domestic emissions amounted to 46.3 million tonnes CO2 equivalents in 2020, representing a record reduction of 8.9% compared with 2019, which is well inside the government’s stipulated reduction range. The decreasing emission levels depend on lower generation of emissions from industry, domestic transport and electricity and district heating sectors, though, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, they also result from less activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emission reductions in any one year do not diminish the greenhouse effect, either; the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere simply increases temporarily at a slightly lower rate than it otherwise would have. It is not until net emissions reach zero or are negative that the conditions will be in place to stop global warming. And to reach that point, global emissions would need halve every decade from 2020 in order to reach net zero by the middle of the century, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The real world isn’t even close to Ester’s. There is no point in time when all the problems disappear, but despite the problems there are some possible solutions, a sustainable development, that is highlighted by the IPCC and the global sustainable development goals, among others things, such as:

  • Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.
  • Protect and expand the biosphere. Restore wetlands, forests and transition to sustainable regenerative agriculture and forestry practices.
  • Transition from a linear to a circular economy. Complete the cycle. Reduce wastage and waste. Reuse and sharing economies.
  • More equitable distribution of resources, energy and environmental space.

In a changed world like Ester’s, you can imagine that it’s easier to do the right thing. Ester knows that you can’t buy your way to happiness, just as no one would be happy if they just wore broadcloth and ate porridge all day.

According to researchers, the transition must result in maintained or improved quality of life if a sustainable lifestyle is to appeal to enough people and remain as sustainable over time. Other stories and realities must of course be taken into account, such as those of indigenous peoples and other groups of people and of places that are severely impacted by the exploitation or extraction of natural resources. A resilient future that can handle disruptions and still be further developed involves ecological, social and economic sustainability.

After the summer of 2022, when Europe was on fire, when temperature records were broken one after the other and when drought spread across almost half the EU – what are we supposed to think? And is this a result of the climate crisis?

Researchers, meteorologists and the media have long insisted that an individual weather event could not be linked to climate change, and sceptical voices have insisted that weather always varies.

Strong evidence of human influence

But in recent years a new research field has emerged: extreme event attribution. Using vast amounts of data, researchers can with greater certainty attribute individual weather events to global warming, or to put it another way, they can say how much a weather event can be attributed to human-induced climate change and how much to natural variations. And when it comes to extreme rain and heat waves, there is strong evidence to indicate that they are caused by human influence. The European Commission, acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, last year adopted a new strategy for adapting to climate change, since the impacts were already noticeable and adaptation to a warmer climate therefore had to happen sooner and be more comprehensive.

Resilience must be enhanced, and according to the IPCC, that is best achieved by countries meeting the emission targets they have set, but enhancing the resilience of cities and societies comes neither easily nor cheaply. The insurance industry in a number of countries has begun murmuring that while its business is to protect against disasters, it will be a totally different situation if the unexpected becomes the expected. “We cannot insure what we already know will occur,” says Staffan Moberg, a lawyer from the industry organisation Insurance Sweden and an expert in climate-related damage.

Now back to the future. Ester doesn’t think about commonplace things like sustainability and adaptation. She knows that the climate threat was considerable during the first decades of the 2000s, but it’s something she no longer gives much thought to because she’s busy enough living her own life. One day at a time. One step at a time. She runs her fingers through her hair, pulls down her sunglasses and hurries off.

Erica Treijs

Erica Treijs
Reporter SvD
Years in Schibsted: 21

Meet our people I care for our contribution to society

Meet our people: "I care for our contribution to society.”

Meet our people I care for our contribution to society

"I care for our contribution to society"

“Talent is the foundation of success, so our people are, without a doubt, our most important asset,” says Grethe Malkmus, Schibsted’s new Head of People and Communication.

Grethe joined the company six years ago and has held a number of roles over the years, including Director of People at VG and in News Media. This has given her insight into Schibsted’s different brands and diverse cultures, as well as an understanding of the opportunities and challenges in an evolving employment landscape.

“It’s never been more important, or more challenging, to attract, retain and develop the talented employees we need in order to fulfil our purpose of empowering people and serving society.”

Economic uncertainty, increasing global competition and changing attitudes to work means that there is a need to focus on multiple fronts, like identifying the right talents and making sure to give them what they need, she explains.

“It’s a tough task, no doubt, but I can’t think of a better-placed organisation in our markets to address this.”
She mentions the learning opportunities within an inclusive workplace and career opportunities across the businesses as great options to attract and retain talents.

“In my heart, I truly care for the success of Schibsted and our contribution to society. Every time I pop into the daily all-hands in our media houses and experience the enthusiastic debate around journalism, I’m always reminded of our purpose. I am really proud that what we do in our team has an impact on that larger purpose.”

Grethe Malkmus, EVP, Chief People and Communication Office

Author Monika Gustavsson och Karin LIander

Monika Gustavsson and Karin Liander

They make the office feel like home

In Stockholm, around 20 Schibsted companies have their offices in the same building. The different spaces are designed with each company’s need and identity in mind – much thanks to Monika Gustavsson and Karin Nyberg Liander.

Monika and Karin belong to the facility team and take care of all surfaces to make sure everyone has the space and furniture they need.

“When we started, there were desks in straight rows, and people were disturbed without understanding why. Now we are looking into each company’s needs and then we are trying to create a nice, homely feeling,” Karin explains.

And many changes have been made lately, not least because people are working from home and don’t have fixed places at the office. New kinds of spaces are needed and the leading word is an “activity-based office”.

“Minor details matter and we try not to skip those little extra things, even when the budget is tight,” says Monika.

Another change is that now most people in the building know who is responsible for the work environment. Karin and Monika move around and talk to people.

“The best thing is that our job varies a lot,” says Monika.

“And that we get to be creative and make people feel good while being here,” Karin adds.

Monika Gustavsson, Karin Liander, Workspace Managers, Stockholm
Years in Schibsted: 5

Author Agnieszka Lasyk

Agnieszka Lasyk

Trust and safety make teams happy

Agnieszka Lasyk is into happy teams. She’s working as a director of engineering, based in Schibsted’s office in Krakow, Poland, and she is certain that a safe working environment is crucial for success at work.

“I really want to be part of creating the best environment possible to give employees the best opportunities to excel.”

Her interest is rooted in her former studies. She has a degree in sociology, and as a manager in Schibsted, she drew on her learnings and experiences on building happy teams in order to improve performance, on her own initiative. And she started off by spreading the message with a presentation to tech leaders, about three years ago.

“At first, I was a bit reluctant, thinking that this is common knowledge. But then I was asked to hold presentations in different teams and forums, so apparently, it’s not that obvious.”

Her main message is that happy teams perform better – and that trust and psychological safety are the foundations for building them. And that managers and leaders need to act as role models.

“Managers should make their whole team understand that they can come as they are and work to foster an inclusive and transparent culture.”

Agnieszka Lasyk, Director of Engineering, Schibsted Marketing Services
Years in Schibsted: 9

No human left behind

No human left behind

No human left behind

No human left behind

For one year, Sumeet Singh Patpatia has been Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Schibsted. After collecting data one thing is clear – there is a lot of unleashed potential that could spur on innovation.

In a rapidly accelerating world, where markets, trends, customer behaviours and needs constantly evolve, companies must evolve as well. In addition to this, we face challenges of enormous complexity and scale – the climate crisis, energy costs, an uncertain macro-economic outlook and a war in Europe. Never has the need for different perspectives and inclusion been more urgent. With a greater range of diversity in the room comes a wider range of perspectives, ways of thinking, understanding behaviours – and greater responsibility.

No human left behind

Inclusion is about the ability to unleash the potential of all kinds of people, to make everyone thrive, feel seen and translate that to better products and services. And to have the right team in place to spot the relevant, changing needs. By broadening the range of diversity in our teams, the possibility to innovate and innovate even better increases.

Understanding how we can improve

That’s why we, for a year now, have been working on a plan to make Schibsted an even more diverse and inclusive place to work, a place where everyone should have a sense of belonging. We already do a lot, and in many ways, we are a diverse and meaningful home for more than 6,000 brave and adventurous employees. But it has also been crucial to really understand how we can improve. During the last year, we have been traveling around and meeting employees in every corner of the company to do some extensive data analysis.

We have conducted more than 100 internal interviews, three deep studies in three different organisations, and integrated the DIB-aspects in our internal survey. Our findings show that the majority of our employees find that we have an inclusive culture. But when 89% say we have a culture that is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination, you also need to consider that some still disagree.

And when in another survey, 9% find the environment evasive and passive and 3% say it’s segregating, you also need to acknowledge that people belonging to a majority feel more included than people belonging to minority groups.

Hidden diversity expertise

It’s sometimes easy to be satisfied with big numbers – but in order to really find out what is needed, you have to dig deeper. For instance, we also found out that there is a lot of hidden diversity expertise that is rarely or never taken into account. Such as people who have lived abroad, or perhaps people who are married to someone with a different culture experience.

No doubt, people do see the need for diversity and inclusion, and its connection to improved product development – and that curiosity is a key behaviour to support this. Our next step is to go from data to action, and to translate those perspectives into tangible value. We have also established local DIB groups in Finn, Blocket, Lendo, Aftenposten and our data and tech department already, and more will come.

And we have a DIB strategy in place – these are some of the actions we are focusing on now:

  • Developing inclusive employee life cycle processes, starting off with creating an inclusive recruitment process playbook.
  • Introduce programs and trainings to develop culture and competence within DIB.
  • Implement a DIB maturity index – to really understand our state much deeper.
  • Get insights about and understand customers that we don’t reach today.

But most important is to build competence throughout the organisation. In the end the responsibility to include all rests on both colleagues and leaders.
Because as humans, we exclude people consciously and unconsciously all the time. And being excluded is painful. It actually impacts our brain in the same manner as physical pain. Whether we weren´t selected in the football team as kids, never invited to the prom, or we find out that our friends, who we thought were close, got married and didn’t invite us. Whatever it is doesn’t matter – it all hurts.

When we feel excluded we limit ourselves

People around us may go to work and feel excluded every day. Having a feeling that they need to fit in to a specific culture, where you must park your unique perspectives in order to thrive. Perhaps not daring to share ideas in the product development room, lifting perspectives in the team meeting or always feeling misunderstood, because the context you are in doesn’t understand your angle.

We know that when we feel excluded, we limit ourselves. We might be afraid of opening up or sharing our perspectives or ideas. So, creating a culture in which everyone dares to share boils down to the responsibility of the leader and the colleagues. For colleagues, it is about our ability to invite and include perspectives (competence) of our colleagues with different experiences when we write or develop products. For leaders, it is about their ability to understand the full potential of everyone and making sure those perspectives are visible and that you as a leader listen to them.

Our vision in Schibsted is to develop the best workplace, a place where you can be you. And that is our main tool to empower all kinds of people in their daily lives. To make that happen, we need to keep on investigating, learning and following a clear plan.

Author Sumeet Singh Patpatia

Sumeet Singh Patpatia
Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Years in Schibsted: 1

Living in war

Living in war

When Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of thousands fled west – and millions remained to defend themselves and continue their lives. Future Report has collected some of the best pictures from photographers employed by Schibsted’s newspapers who has visited the warzone. Photo: Staffan Löwstedt

April, 2022. After enduring weeks of Russian bombardment, only a few residents remain i the Saltivka area in Charkiv. Photo: Harald Henden, VG

September, 2022. “Only my children, or my grandchildren, will see the end of this war,” says sniper Oksana. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf, SvD

May, 2022. Nikita from Charkiv celebrates her birthday in the subway, where she’s lived for two months. She loves it down here, and wants to become a subway driver when she grows up. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman, SvD

March, 2022. Women in the Isidia clinic give birth while bombs fall outside. At 7 pm every day, staff, mothers and newborn move down into the basement for protection. Photo: Nora Savosnick, Aftonbladet

September, 2022. A refurbished SAS airplane transports injured Ukranian soldiers to hospitals in Western Europe, mainly in Germany and the Netherlands. Photo: Jan Tomas Espedal, Aftenposten

July 2022. Captain Dmytro Pletentsjuk inspects the destruction in Mykolaiv. Photo: Paal Audestad, Aftenposten

September, 2022. Six kilometres behind the frontline near Cherson, Ukrainian artillerymen return fire at the Russian positions. Photo: Harald Henden, VG

March 2022. Olha Shmymal, 20, says goodbye to Volodomyr Moliadynets, 24, as he’s leaving for the warzones in the east. Photo: Krister Hansson, Aftonbladet

September, 2022. When Aftenposten visits the military graveyard outside of Charkiv, workers have just started using excavators instead of digging by hand. Photo: Jan Tomas Espedal, Aftenposten

Are we dreaming big enough?

Are we dreaming big enough

Are we dreaming big enough?

Are we dreaming big enough?

CRISPR-Cas9 has given us tools to rewrite life. The discovery on how to edit our genes is said to be the holy grail of science with possibility to fix gene disorders and improve people’s lives. Yet, not that many treatments or applications has been developed. How come?

A few years ago, American biochemist and Nobel prize winner Jennifer Doudna was working on her laptop in an airport lounge in New Jersey, when a couple walking by with their two boys caught her attention. The younger boy made his way on crutches, displaying signs of a hereditary disease called muscular dystrophy.

“Generally manifesting in childhood, the disease steadily robs those who have it of their ability to walk. Eventually, I knew, the crutches would no longer be enough,” she recalled in an article in The Atlantic.

Are we dreaming big enough?

Doudna had just come from a meeting where a cure for the boy’s disease appeared possible, using CRISPR technology to rewrite the DNA of kids just like him.

“Imagining how the technology I’d helped create could change this boy’s life, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Beyond hope and wonder, I was filled with a sense of fierce urgency to expand CRISPR’s impact to the people around the world who need it most,” she wrote.

In 2020, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of a method for genome editing”, known as CRISPR-Cas9. As with many great scientific achievements, scientists before them had made ground-breaking discoveries that paved the way for their work.

The potential of their discovery seems endless.

In 1987, Japanese molecular biologist Yoshizumi Ishino and his colleagues discovered a protein named Cas9 found in the Streptococcus bacterial “CRISPR” immune system that co-operates with guide RNA and works like scissors. The protein slices up the DNA of viruses, preventing them from infecting the bacterium. This natural defence system was later characterised by the Spanish molecular biologist and microbiologist Francisco Mojica. However, it was Doudna and Charpentier who showed, in 2012, that they could use different RNAs to program the protein to cut and edit different DNA. The potential of their discovery seems endless.

The blueprint of our lives

“It’s a little scary, quite honestly,” Doudna told The New York Times about the possibilities of our CRISPR future. “But it’s also quite exciting.”

Our DNA is called the blueprint of life. It contains the genetic code, which is essentially the instructions for creating an organism. By altering our DNA, we can, in a sense, rewrite the rules of life. Our eye colour, hair colour, height and the size of our noses – it’s all determined by our genes. Unfortunately, errors in our DNA can cause severe diseases. Sickle cell disease, Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome and Huntington’s disease are examples of genetic disorders.

Are we dreaming big enough?

“If we could go in and fix these mistakes, we could save many, many lives and get rid of these diseases,” philanthropist Bill Gates has explained. Editing DNA with precision has, as he puts it, been the holy grail for scientists for decades. His foundation is funding work to see if CRISPR can be used to knock out mosquito populations dramatically, as well as to make better seeds, help with very accurate diagnostics, and lead to cure for HIV and things like sickle cell. CRISPR has also been used to enable T-cells (a part of the immune system that focuses on specific foreign particles) to find and destroy cancer cells.

As Gates points out, using the CRISPR gene editing tool for curing diseases isn’t very controversial. The idea of changing the DNA that determines your baby’s eye colour or skin tone, however, is another story. Most scientists agree that this is something we should not do. But where should we draw the line? And how do we make sure we don’t cross it?

It needs a push

In her article, Jennifer Doudna writes that the advances made so far – and those still to come in preventive medicine, diagnostics, agriculture, biomanufacturing and synthetic biology – promise to improve the lives of millions of people. They’ve also launched companies and helped existing ones break new ground. This growing CRISPR economy was estimated at USD 5.2 billion in 2020. Venture capitalists poured more than USD 1 billion into the growing ecosystem of genome-editing companies in 2021 alone.

“Sometimes, when I think about my part in all this, I am overcome,” Doudna writes. At the same time, she asks: Are we dreaming big enough? Moving quickly enough?

Her answer is “no”. She compares it with cell phones, which went from a niche luxury technology to outnumbering the human population, creating new economies and changing the way we live. For the CRISPR technology to be widely adopted, it needs a push, just like mobile phones did, Doudna argues.

“Realizing CRISPR’s full potential will require many more of us to come together. (…) Academic scientists, industry researchers, investors, policymakers and members of the public each have a role to play,” she concludes.

Positive reactions

After reading Doudna’s article, I couldn’t help but wonder why more wasn’t being done to make sure we seize this possibility to improve the lives of so many people. Here we have a pioneer of her field, waving her incredible tool, urging the world to see its potential and use it. I was curious to know if she had received any reactions to the article. Had it been the wake-up call she might have hoped?

In an e-mail, Doudna’s Lab Coordinator Keana Lucas assured me that the reactions to The Atlantic op-ed were positive.

“At this 10th-anniversary mark, it’s clear that CRISPR tech has made remarkable progress. Winning the Nobel has only brightened the spotlight and amount of investment and engagement in a technology that promises to positively change our health and the health of our world,” she told me.

A Swiss army knife

What about Emmanuelle Charpentier? Where does she stand on all this? Emmanuelle Charpentier is a French professor and researcher in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry. As of 2015, she has been a director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. Between 2009 and 2017, she worked as a research director and guest researcher at Umeå University in Sweden. In a video clip on the University’s website from 2015 – five years before she received the Nobel prize – Charpentier explained her discovery as “a Swiss army knife that allows repairing genes”.

“If you want to discover something important, you need to ask maybe crazy questions. It is when I came to Umeå that I developed a project that was to somehow bring together two different mechanisms that became the CRISPR-Cas9 mechanism,” she says, adding that her ultimate wish is that the technology be used to treat serious genetic disorders.

She believes that one of the greatest dangers we face is that the basic sciences are no longer attractive to young people.

In 2019, Charpentier founded a company called CRISPR Therapeutics. In 2022, the company published preliminary results from a clinical trial showing that 15 patients with beta thalassemia – a severe type of anaemia that requires lifelong reliance on blood transfusions – had gone months without needing transfusions after receiving a drug that edited the gene that caused the disease. In an interview with El País, she explained that she is focused on looking for new forms of gene editing to combat antibiotic-resistant infections. She also said she believes that one of the greatest dangers we face is that the basic sciences are no longer attractive to young people, people who will need to invent new treatments and medicines in the future.

“I think we all – and especially young people – need to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in,” she told the Spanish newspaper.

Marcus Jarås is a Swedish associate professor at the Department of Clinical Genetics at Lund University. His work focuses on using CRISPR to find new targets for cancer treatments. Using CRISPR to better understand the biology behind different diseases is the most common way of using the technology today, he explains. Swedish scientists were quick to start using the CRISPR technology, but as far as Jarås knows, it hasn’t led to any new treatments yet. That isn’t surprising, however, considering that it normally takes ten years from discovery to approval of a new treatment.

Use of CRISPR as a gene therapeutic treatment is further complicated by the fact that there are patents in the field that require licenses for technical commercial services, Jarås adds. In part, he shares Doudna’s analysis that CRISPR needs a nudge.

“More can always be done, but I still think that CRISPR has very quickly established itself as a powerful new tool for gene editing, not least in biomedical research. On the other hand, things are slow with CRISPR in plant breeding due to the GMO debate that led to EU legislation that makes it difficult to use this technology. In this area, CRISPR could really use a push,” he says.

Needs to be handle with caution

But if CRISPR can fix errors in our DNA code, could it also accidentally cause them harm? According to Swedish researchers at Uppsala University, who’ve experimented with editing the DNA of zebrafish using the tool, the answer is “yes”. Their studies show that there were several types of unexpected changes to the fish DNA.

Sometimes, larger parts of the DNA than intended were changed. Other times, the edits were made in the wrong part of the genetic material. The researchers also saw that the mutations could be passed on to future generations of zebrafish since they had occurred in fertilized egg cells. The techniques currently being developed for humans, however, are not using reproductive cells. There is, in other words, no risk that the changes – good or bad – can be passed on to the offspring.

The point of the research, according to the scientists, is not to suggest that gene scissors are an unfit tool for treatment. Only, that it needs to be handled with caution. The Uppsala University team is now focusing on improving the safety of CRISPR-
Cas9 therapies, where cells from a patient are genetically enhanced outside of the body and reinjected as a treatment.

“Such treatments are now being developed for a wide range of diseases. Our aim is to develop efficient methods to screen for unwanted mutations in the genetically modified cells,” says Adam Ameur, Associate Professor at the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University.

So, the question remains – are we using this tool to its full potential – and if not, what possible advancements are we missing out on when it comes to decreasing pain and suffering? Is it the idea of rewriting the rules for life that is holding us back, or is it simply the time it takes to make sure we get it right? Not even the inventors of the technology seem to know the answer.

Author Mikaela Akerman

Mikaela Åkerman
Editor, Omni
Years in Schibsted: 8

Workplace trends 2023

Workplace trends: 2023

Workplace trends 2023

Workplace trends

The world of work has changed dramatically in the last few years. Employees are more vocal about what they need from their employers, and companies must work harder to both attract and retain this elusive talent. These are the trends we believe will grow in the coming year.

Workplace trends 2023

Value driven employees

Today, employees are interested in more than high salaries and decent benefits – they want to work for firms that share their values. Research from CNBC/Momentive shows that the majority of workers wouldn’t even consider a position at a company that didn’t share their values, and about 40% would likely quit their jobs if their organisations took a stand on a political issue with which they do not agree. For companies, that means that being transparent about drivers and values can be hugely beneficial when hiring.

Upskilling and reskilling

Utilising people you already have in your organisation is not only more important than ever due to the war for talent in many spaces, it also creates a stronger organisation. Seeing and nurturing the underutilised skills of your employees, as well as developing new skills within your workforce, will create more skilled teams and likely more engaged employees. Not only that, hiring externally is difficult and expensive – something most organisations can’t afford in the current economy.

Inclusive leaders are in demand

What’s required of leaders is also changing, and companies need to take this into account. Democratic and empathic leadership is in demand. Successful companies need leaders capable of managing a diverse workforce made up of people with different needs and talents. Leading teams without discrimination and bias has always been important, but for many, the work has only just begun. We’ve seen in the previous trends that employees want their unique needs met, which means thriving companies must take this into consideration when choosing and training their leaders.

Workplace trends 2023

Fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging

Following the previous point – creating a workplace in which diversity, inclusion and belonging are crucial factors creates organisations where people are happier to work. And happy people make for good employees. Diversity of talent, backgrounds and personalities fosters innovation and mirrors the world your company is targeting. Making sure everyone feels comfortable being who they are at work will also open new opportunities and ideas that might otherwise have been overlooked or stifled.

Talents have global opportunities

During the pandemic, many companies realised the benefits of remote or hybrid ways of work, and though many big organisations are clamping down on working from home, others see its potential. The competition for talent now extends beyond the regions of your offices, as companies can hire exceptional talent regardless of distance. This means that talented individuals will have more job opportunities no matter where they are located – but it also means that the war for talent is far more competitive as the talent in question will have more choices.

Develop management in-house

Developing your management – not only your executives – is critical to success. Promoting talent without thorough management development can result in poor performance and dissatisfied teams. By developing the talent you already have in-house, you’re not just making use of a lot of existing knowledge, you are also more likely to retain them. Management development helps close skills gaps at an organisational level and increases your human capital: the knowledge, intelligence, and experience within your workforce.

Finding the right hybrid model that fits all

Continuing with trends borne out of the pandemic, employees are craving more flexibility in the way they work. That does include where to work – whether from their home, an office, or even on a sunny beach somewhere – but also when and how they work. A lot of people who started working from home in 2020 found that they could be more effective and enjoy their work more if they had more flexibility to decide when they worked best. For some, that still means a nine-to-five workday in the office, but for others, it may mean splitting their workdays into chunks of two or four hours, enabling them to pick up kids from school and spend time with their families during the afternoon, and then get a couple of hours of work in after the kids have gone to bed – for example.

Workplace trends 2023

You need to offer personal growth

Following the big shifts in the job market over the last couple of years, whether you want to call it the great resignation, the big quit or the great re-shuffle, a lot of potential employees want and expect more from their workplace. The need for growth in the workplace now goes beyond professional – people are looking for personal growth as well. Being able to facilitate this in your organisation, through mentorship programs, soft skills development or other offerings, will make you far more attractive as an employer. The future of work is also about employee well-being. Staying healthy and happy at work is in many ways crucial.

A strong community that built a strong business

A strong community that built a strong business

A strong community that built a strong business
Joonas Pihlajamaa and Jenni Tuomisto at Tori’s office in Helsinki.

A strong community that built a strong business

Tori is Fanland’s largest and most popular peer-to-peer marketplace. As a beloved brand the company will have an important role in Schibsted, to make circularity the obvious choice.

On Tori, you can buy anything under the sun – from furniture to hobby equipment, and from cars to apartments. Each month, more than 3.4 million Finns use Tori. There are over 500,000 deals closed, and more than 2.5 million contacts made between buyers and sellers.

Over the past 13 years, Tori has grown to be an integral part of the Finnish way of life and is currently the 11th most visited website in the country with more hits than Instagram. The marketplace has been instrumental in radically changing the way Finns consume and buy things. Used goods are no longer bought solely to save money or for ecological reasons. Rather, it makes sense to prolong the life cycle of quality products by passing them on to new owners online.

A strong community that built a strong business
Max Salmi & Hoang Pham takes the opportunity to play a card game on their break

Tori was founded in 2009 by Schibsted, based on its successful Swedish sister brand Blocket. With Jussi Lystimäki leading Tori from its launch, the brand quickly became a significant player in Finland, overtaking previously established e-commerce brands. After four years of operation, Tori became the market leader in online second-hand trade in early 2013, and has since maintained that position, growing steadily through the years.

A disruptive model

“When we started, Tori was a disruptive model in Finland. It was free to list ads, users didn’t need to register and we offered instant good deals, which made buy and sell a much easier experience than leading competitors were offering,” says Jussi Lystimäki.

“All of this created a viral movement and when the inventory was in place radical marketing finalized the success”, he adds.

Now Tori has become an institution and a beloved brand in Finland, which is reflected in the way people use its name in creative ways. We can, for example, use it as a verb “to tori” (Finnish: “torittaa”, to browse Tori or trade on Tori), or refer to our purchases as “Tori finds”.

A strong community that built a strong business

But while Tori has had great success in the Finnish market and the volume of visitors and deals is high, there is still much more potential in the field of second-hand trade – not just in terms of business opportunities, but also in that it offers a real solution to reduce people’s consumption.

Circular consumption is at the core of Tori’s business.

Tori is the hub of Finnish second-hand trade, and according to the Schibsted Second Hand Effect report, its users have a significant impact on sustainable consumption. In 2021, Tori users potentially saved almost 172,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions, 6,411 tonnes of plastic, 31,085 tonnes of steel and 6,844 tonnes of aluminium – just by selling and buying second-hand and thus reducing the need for new production.

Circular consumption is important to the Finnish people, who are putting increasingly more emphasis on choosing second-hand products and other sustainable alternatives. And in 2022, Finnish consumers perceived Tori as Finland’s most sustainable e-commerce brand in the Sustainable Brand Index? brand study.

A strong community that built a strong business
Heidi Tukiainen, Henna Hietalahti, Jessica Nguyen & Topi Elomaa enjoy their meeting – maybe it’s the Schibsted branded socks that keep their spirits up?

In 2016, Jussi Lystimäki took on a new role in Schibsted’s Emerging Markets business. He was succeeded in his role at Tori by Juha Meronen, who steered the company for several years. In 2020, Schibsted grew its business in Finland by acquiring Oikotie, a leading online classifieds business from Sanoma, and Jussi returned to the CEO position of the new Schibsted Marketplaces Finland.

A strong community that built a strong business

With its three marketplaces (Tori, Oikotie and Rakentaja), Schibsted Marketplaces Finland became an even stronger player and Tori continues to be Finland’s leading brand in second-hand trade, while Oikotie holds the second place in the jobs and real estate verticals.

Tori has always been a community of empathetic and curious people.

The legacy of the brand and its culture over the past 13 years is strong, but it has been renewed over the years with the addition of new employees, including the Oikotie team, in the company.

“Tori has always been a community of empathetic and curious people, and that hasn’t changed over the years. Our culture nurtures trust, learning, and is also challenging the status quo when needed,” says Jenni Tuomisto, Director of Tori.

“We are doing impactful business, and that keeps us motivated in our job to deliver great products for a more sustainable future.”

Tori’s long history, stable position in the Finnish market, and strong culture are accomplishments in their own right. But as the world keeps changing, Schibsted Nordic Marketplaces is adapting its course to stay relevant to meet new customers’ needs.

Synergies across countries

A journey has begun to set the different marketplaces’ verticals free – and to find synergies across countries.

In this, the work done over the course of a decade in Finland becomes even more important. Throughout the process of setting a new direction, it has been stated that two things cannot be copied from Tori, and those are the people and the culture, and the strong market positions.

Just as with all the marketplaces brands within Schibsted, Tori will remain the familiar institution that users have grown to love and continue to meet in their everyday lives. But behind the scenes, things will be slightly different.

“We are going through a shift both mentally and on a very practical level. We need to adjust our thinking to meet the demands of the changing environment and learn to work in new and smarter ways,” says Jenni Tuomisto.

“We have a strong market position and expertise, but also an equally strong community – and this will work to our advantage as we fulfil our common purpose to make circularity the obvious choice,” she states.

This is Tori

  • Tori was founded in 2009.
  • More than 3.4 million users visit Tori monthly.
  • Approximately 50 employees in Finland (out of 250 in Schibsted Marketplaces Finland).
  • 1.8 million second-hand items are for sale at any given time, and 13,000 items are sold daily.

Author Laura Ruokola

Laura Ruokola
Communications Manager, Schibsted Marketplaces Finland
Years in Schibsted: 1

People don't want to be obligated to go to the office

“People don't want to be obligated to go to the office”

People don't want to be obligated to go to the office
This text is based on a conversation between Anne Helene Petersen and Schibsted's former Head of People and Communication, Mette Krogsrud, at Bergen's Media Days 2022.

“People don't want to be obligated to go to the office”

After the pandemic, the hybrid model has been adopted in many offices. But how it affects work and how to apply it is still unclear. American writer and journalist Anne Helen Petersen is certain – it’s not a quick fix.

“This is hard work. Sometimes people think we’re going to come up with a quick policy on hybrid work. But we are fundamentally changing the way that we work. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to require continued work,” says Anne Helen Petersen.

She has focused a lot on how we work. She was working as a senior culture writer and correspondent for Buzzfeed when she started to take an interest in the subject. Along with her partner, she wrote the book Out of Office: The big problem and bigger promise of working from home, published in 2021, and today she has her own a newsletter, called Culture Study.

Benefits and drawbacks

When the pandemic hit Ann Helen already had been working from home for several years. She moved from New York to the rural state of Montana to work more on stories about work.
“I experienced a lot of the benefits, which included being able to go for a run at 1 p.m. just because I wanted to. I also experienced a lot of the drawbacks, such as the ability to work almost all the time.”

Now, as we have formed new habits again, the question is if the future will stay flexible.

Data collected by Slack, from surveys with more than 10,000 respondents across ten countries, shows that people working in flexible scenarios or in fully remote scenarios have a greater sense of belonging.

“This is the opposite of what most people would assume. People think that when you’re at the office you feel more of a sense of belonging with your co-workers,” says Anne Helen.

Communication crucial

Other numbers from Slack show that employees who perceived their companies to be good at communicating about why and when to come back into the office have twelve times higher job satisfaction than those who don’t feel that their companies are transparent about it.

“To me, this means that transparent companies are cultivating much healthier office cultures.”

Overall, Anne Helen is convinced that most people want a mix.

“They want to have the office as a source of collaboration and community. It’s a place to go to that can add structure to your day and your week. But people don’t want to be obligated to go when they don’t want to and when it’s not necessary.”

Those are also the indications from within Schibsted. Internal surveys show that 75% of the employees prefer to work in a hybrid or fully remote model. But there are some challenges. Globally, many managers are pushing back on remote work. Schibsted’s statistics indicate the same – managers are slightly less fond of the idea. But Anne Helen doesn’t think it’s because they don’t like it.

A presense bias

“Many leaders’ way of doing their job is really based on meeting other people. There is a managing style that I call “walking around” – they understand if someone is doing a good job by actually seeing them and starting a conversation.”

This is what she believes will lead to one of the drawbacks and what she calls “presentism”. A presence bias that means that the people who are present in the office all the time are the ones who get elevated within the organisation.

“In the US, there’s a real preference for the men to be in the office, so the fear is that we are going to take a lot of steps back in terms of gender equity and leadership.”

But once we do meet in the office, how do we spend that time? Anne Helen believes that we will see a larger understanding of being with one another, like when going to a conference, being with a larger group of people and cross-pollinating ideas.  And on the smaller team level, we’re going to see more concentrated retreats – where teams socialise but also do planning and get close collaboration work done.

“To bring in people to plan and brainstorm and then go out and do the work is smart, especially if you are a distributed team.”

Author Ann Axelsson

Ann Axelsson
Senior Project Manager, Strategic Communication
Years in Schibsted: 24

With the power to save the climate

With the power to save the climate

With the power to save the climate
When eight of the world’s largest seafood companies got together they realised no one would benefit from polluted, depleted oceans – so they decided to change things. This is one of the stories told at the executive programme for CEOs.

With the power to save the climate

Greta Thunberg is not the only one listening to the science. CEOs of companies that generate almost half of Sweden’s GDP have returned to the classroom to learn about climate science and action. When deep insight about the climate crisis reaches this level of decision-making, real change can come about.

It’s thanks to Lisen Schultz that the Swedish CEOs decided to clear time in their busy schedules to take the course. In 2018, she transformed what began as an annual event into an executive programme for CEOs at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

Standing alone on the stage under the strong lights, she felt the conviction grow. The worst thing had already happened to her, and so she had no fear left. Her husband, and father of her three children, had died in a bike accident in the mountains outside Nice, and now she stood there with all eyes on her. The room was filled with Sweden’s top business leaders, invited journalists and researchers, who had come to discuss sustainability and what could be done to speed up the transformation.

With the power to save the climate
Three of the Swedes who have attended Lisen Schultz’ training: influential businessman Jacob Wallenberg, crown princess Victoria, and Scania CEO Henrik Henriksson. Photo: Lars Pehrson, Carolina Byrmo, Malin Hoelstad

In memory of her husband, Lisen Schultz wanted to shape a business sector that respects the planetary boundaries and nurtures human potential. He had been editor-in-chief of a number of financial newspapers, and was passionate about issues like gender equality, diversity and sustainability in business. As a sustainability scientist at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Lisen saw a path along which his work could be taken forward.

Looking for a stronger impact

Amidst all the chaos that ensued from the accident, she created the foundation that bears his name: the Pontus Schultz Foundation for more humane businesses. But as the climate crisis accelerated, Lisen wanted the foundation to have a stronger impact on action. And even though her grief had caused her to doubt, it all started there on a stage in the glare of a single spotlight.

No sooner said than done; one day in early autumn, the taxis rolled up and Swedish business leaders – major shareholders like Jacob Wallenberg, Tomas Billing, CEO of Nordstjernan, Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania and Axel Johnson’s Pia Anderberg – entered the researchers’ domain and took their seats. As a whole, the class generated a substantial share of Sweden’s GDP and accounted for CO2 emissions twice the size of Sweden’s. It was mind-boggling, but the power of science gave Lisen a new glimmer of hope.

“With lectures being given by world-leading researchers, the message would be clear and no one would shy away from ruffling a few feathers, I knew that. But I had no idea whether or not it would work.”

“The planet has financed our way of life. Now the invoices are arriving.”

Professor Johan Rockström took the classroom floor: “The planet has financed our way of life. Now the invoices are arriving.” He then proceeded to describe the anthropocene – the geological epoch in which humans shape the climate conditions – and the safe operating space for humanity.

“Four planetary boundaries have already been crossed, while others are dangerously close to their respective tipping points. The situation is dangerous but we can still change direction”, he explained. Members of the audience started shifting in their seats, and that was before Kate Raworth, economist and creator of Doughnut Economics, took the stage and insisted that economic theory had to be adapted to the planetary boundaries; a radical message that challenged the idea of infinite growth and maximum profit.

Not everyone agreed, and loud discussions ensued, but eventually the discussion shifted towards what could be done. Participants identified actions they could take in their companies, but also who else they could influence in order to achieve zero emissions, such as suppliers, employees, customers, competitors, investors and politicians. Companies can influence the world’s development, and the course participants realised they were not making the sustainability journey alone. The nightmare soon became a dream.

With the power to save the climate
Together with Erica Treijs (the author of this article) Lisen Schultz tells the story of her quest to educate about climate change in the brand new book “Kursen” (The course). Photo: Martin Stenmark

It needs to be In a company’s DNA

“You can’t base a transformation on a separate sustainability strategy. Clear goals are all well and good, but sustainability must be in a company’s DNA, corporate culture and governance. Changes will only last if they’re value-driven; only then will employees get onboard”, said Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania. The others nodded in agreement.

So far around 50 or so CEOs and owners – and even Crown Princess Victoria – have been trained by Lisen Schultz and her colleagues. But, once they’re armed with new knowledge about circularity, resilient systems and planetary boundaries, what can business leaders do? What obstacles can they overcome together? And what system of governance could accelerate this sustainable transformation?

According to Lisen Schultz, there’s a limit to how much a company can achieve single-handed to, say, reduce emissions or recycle resources. And the playing field is often tilted towards unsustainability, since many business activities don’t have to bear the costs they impose on society.

“This is where politics plays a big role at global, EU and national level; there’s no getting away from it. But companies of this size can influence politicians, especially if they join forces. That power grows strong during the course”, says Lisen.

The regulations are often decided by the politicians, and they can be about introducing bans, subsidies or taxes and duties aimed at steering the market away from whatever is fossil and resource-intensive and towards circularity and sustainability. EU’s emissions trading system and the carbon tax levied in Sweden and 26 other countries is one example. The fact that New York City pays landowners around the Hudson River to have their trees and wetlands clean the water that runs into the city taps is another one. In other words, governance systems can be large-scale and comprehensive, as in the case of the EU’s taxonomy regulation, which benefits sustainable businesses or, as in the case of New York City, can work on a smaller scale in a specific area.

In the near future the discussion will become even more forward-looking

Of course, not everyone is convinced, but in the near future the discussion will become even more forward-looking. What are the barriers to the sustainability transformation which owners and customers are slowly but surely demanding? What can promote and accelerate the green transformation, and what leads to reluctance, stagnation and “business as usual”?

“Harming the planet should be expensive, but it is not”, says Lisen Schultz.

“Having to make financial concessions often leads to relocations, but there are cases where actors actually succeed in changing the playing field simply by working together. This may sound rather banal, but bear in mind that ten companies control almost three quarters of the world’s oil reserves or that five companies account for 90 percent of global palm oil production. Our future lies in the hands of a few companies.”

She sees the situation as serious, but just as it’s possible to see which companies are actually creating pollution, it’s also possible that they can be part of the solution. Because if the five companies that own almost all of the world’s palm oil production were to decide not to sell palm oil from chopped-down rainforests, the whole playing field would change overnight. And while the world’s three biggest carbon emitters – China Coal, Saudi Aramco and Gazprom – are unlikely to adapt as long as they’re earning money with the current model, there are others who are taking a stand nonetheless. The Danish company Ørstedt previously supplied gas and oil but decided that offshore wind was the future for itself and for the planet, and reduced its emissions by 86 percent over ten years. And its profits remain high and are continuing to grow.

13 companies made an agreement

Carl Folke, professor and founder of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, gives lectures in the course and has, among many other things, led a ground-breaking study on the global seafood industry. Most of this team know that a growing global population and a changed climate make onshore crops even more unpredictable. But most people don’t realise that the world’s oceans feed three billion people. Unfortunately, this food source is also threatened by overfishing, acidification, pollution and algae blooms, leaving the fishing industry under threat on multiples fronts.

Carl Folke and his fellow researchers have shown that 13 companies dominate the global seafood industry, yet they all rely on the same resource, so if they could sit down and talk to each other, would they manage to reach agreement on a form of exploitation that would benefit everyone while still being more or less beneficial to the oceans? No sooner said than done; the researchers succeeded in gathering eight of the biggest seafood companies in a neutral place where they could discuss the situation together. It suddenly became clear to everyone sitting around the table – who came from different countries and cultures – that there was only one way forward and that they all faced the same threats of pollution, acidification, antibiotic resistance and overfishing. But the biggest insight was that, together, they could make a difference without removing the competition between them. They could quite simply agree to, for example, improve working conditions, exert influence on laws and regulations, and make it easier for consumers and authorities to track fish from vessel to table and how they are caught, which would reduce the risk of poaching. From that point on, it was a short step to setting sustainability goals, taking responsibility for supply chains and avoiding highly vulnerable areas. Because no one benefits from polluted, depleted oceans.

Despite all her knowledge about the global situation, Lisen Schultz remains an incurable optimist, and she believes that climate communication represents an untapped resource.

“Martin Luther King didn’t say ‘I have a nightmare’; instead, he painted a vision of the future where black and white people lived as equals. The same logic can be applied to climate communication. Most of us want the best for the planet, for their own sake and for that of their children, but we need help to achieve that.”

It’s about setting scientifically informed goals, taking control of our climate footprint and working locally. It’s not about adopting an anorexic lifestyle; it’s about doing whatever we can at every opportunity and cooperating on reaching our goals within the planetary boundaries.

“It is in business and industry that those heroes are found”

The business leaders in the classroom in Stockholm also got a strong message from Nigel Topping, appointed by the British government as High-level Climate Action Champion, tasked with raising industrial climate ambitions in the preparations for COP26:

“Every disaster film has heroes who refuse to give up and who find a way forward. When it comes to the climate, I’m fully convinced that it is in business and industry that those heroes are found”. According to Topping, the Paris Agreement came about partly through the united voice from hundreds of leading companies who supported an international climate agreement.

Most business leaders agree that goals need to be realistic and time-bound. But at the same time, ambitious goals are pushing the boundary of possibilities, in the same way John F Kennedy did, when he decided that a moon landing should happen. This clear goal and a solid pot of money released creativity and mobilised initiative; the impossible became possible.

Lisen now sees parallels between her own story and personal loss, and how all of us now need to adapt to a new reality, however painful that may be. But to be able to do it, we must have a vision, a goal and a plan that is sustainable, one that enables us to take a first step on the journey, together. Because that’s how we humans work. Life always finds a way.

Erica Treijs

Erica Treijs
Reporter, SvD
Years in Schibsted: 20

Let all people blossom

Meet our people: Let all people blossom

Let all people blossom

Meet our people

Julie Schoen’s company DBA has recently joined the Schibsted family, Sanni Moilanen works for our Finish marketplace Tori and Håkan Halvarsson is our new head of People & Culture. Get to know them and what they do.

Let all people blossom

One comment has haunted Håkan Halvarsson more than any other. Growing up, he was often asked: “Why do you always need to go against the flow?” Ever since, it has been clear to him that this is probably the most important thing he can do.

“My mother taught to always question given things.”

Perhaps this thinking will infuse Schibsted – as Håkan’s new assignment is to develop leadership and culture across the company. It’s not exactly a straightforward task in Schibsted, since it consists of many strong and independent brands, each with their own identity and culture.

“The pressure to be a modern and attractive employer has increased enormously. Not least has the pandemic fast forwarded us by 15 years with new ways of working, which is truly creating a global work force. Schibsted’s strength is that we are stronger together.”

In Håkan’s mind the key to fully acting on this advantage is through leadership. And building a common, overarching leadership culture is now high on the agenda. One step on this journey is the recently launched Harvard program in disruptive innovation.

“We also need to build our culture around how to find failures, catapult learning and optimise solutions. Failure is a great force if harnessed well. That’s how innovation happens.”

Going back to that comment about going against the flow, Håkan is also on a personal crusade to promote everyone’s uniqueness as a strength.

“When I think institutions in society, my impression is that they are made to crush uniqueness because it’s simply irritating. If our leaders and our culture could instead view individual uniqueness as a strength and let all people blossom to their full potential, I’m convinced that more success will come to all of us!”

Håkan Halvarsson
SvP People & Culture
Years in Schibsted: 10

Julie Schoen
Julie Schoen

Finding unknown treasures

Nice and engaging storytelling is great for inspiration and an effective marketing tool.

Julie Schoen has been working at DBA (Den Blå Avis, the Danish marketplace that recently became part of the Schibsted family) since 2017, and she and the marketing team have taken the idea of telling stories to the next level.

“When I started to contact sellers behind interesting ads, asking them to tell their stories – the effect and the engagement grew, it became a success.”

Today the DBA Guide is now a full site with stories about things for sale, tips on how to “upcycle” used things and guides on how to get your stuff sold. One of the most popular video concepts is about collectors.

“We focus on ordinary things that most people have at home, like puzzles for example. It’s great to show that things you might have in your basement can actually be worth some money.”

For other stories, Julie meets up with people who are selling more unique things, to create entertaining articles and videos, and to show people what they can do with reused things.

“It’s also nice to demonstrate that sellers and buyers are just ordinary people, like you and me. Sometimes people worry about meeting people they don’t know.”

Julie Schoen
Editor DBA Guide, spokesperson DBA
Years in Schibsted: 0.5

Sanni Moilanen
Sanni Moilanen

Supervisors will build the culture

When Schibsted bought Oikotie, there was a need to create something that could bind the company together with Tori – the other Finnish marketplace owned by Schibsted.

Sanni Moilanen, and the rest of cthe people team in Finland, began looking into a new kind of managerial role, to serve as an enabler for creating a strong united culture, for all 180 employees in the two different companies.

“We needed to build something from scratch that could give us a common foundation”, Sanni explains.

The idea was to define a role that would focus on people, coaching and leadership, instead of functional responsibilities, a concept that Sanni found so interesting that she decided to write her master’s thesis on how to define it – a role they ended up calling “supervisor”.

“The purpose of our supervisor is to empower employees to reach their full potential and to support a more modern way to lead. And we are convinced that this will lead to an innovative culture.”

The role is still new but it has already brought managers together. The onboarding included a “Supervisor Buddy” system in which two managers met and discussed the role regularly. And Sanni is quite happy with the results.

“I believe this is the first step towards our goal of creating a true learning organisation.”

Sanni Moilanen
Learning & Development Manager
Years in Schibsted: Almost 6

I believe it can fly

I believe it can fly

I believe it can fly

I believe it can fly

The world’s tech investors are turning their attention to electric planes; but are battery-powered engines enough to get airline companies up and flying again?

But first, let’s get the cultural reference out of the way: R. Kelly believed he could fly, and for a while he did. But he flew too high and ended up a dark hole he won’t be coming out of any time soon. Many of the companies which are currently flying high on promises of electric planes will suffer a similar fate.

Electric aircraft may seem a long way off right now, but things can move fast in the world of technology. No one could envisage a world without air travel, either.

I believe I can fly

A life-threatening virus and closed national borders knocked the wind out of the airlines. Some of them hit the canvas, while others clung to the ropes and tried to stay on their feet despite feeling groggy and confused. Their revenue streams were cut off, and no matter where you build your levee, water will always find a way. Virtual meetings and advanced presentation tools aren’t actually that new, but the pandemic struck at the same time as these technologies matured. Bit rates have now become good enough, so public and private enterprises – and people generally – were now forced to take a giant leap into a new reality, with communication technology which otherwise would have been lightyears away. They discovered that in most cases they didn’t need to fly at all.

And then came the reports concluding that we should do whatever we could to avoid flying.

Several alarming climate reports from the UN are causing passengers to lose sleep at the mere thought of helping the airlines to stay afloat.
A negligible proportion of the world’s population flies frequently, yet air traffic accounts for around 2.4 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. On top of that comes emissions of nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and soot. An EU report from the end of 2020 confirms that the combined impact of these emissions is at least as serious for the climate as the CO2 emissions alone.

Some airlines are trying to put lipstick on a pig by bragging how fuel-efficient their planes are.

Some airlines are trying to put lipstick on a pig by bragging how fuel-efficient their planes are. And to some extent they’re right; modern passenger planes use way less fuel than they did 20 years ago. But they still use a lot of fuel. And before the virus took off in Wuhan, people travelled way more than they did back then. So, emissions have not dropped over time; they’ve risen dramatically.

I believe I can fly

Everyone realises that the aviation industry needs to cut its emissions – for moral as well as economic reasons. Many countries have now adopted political strategies to dramatically cut emissions from air traffic in the coming decades. The first airline to offer passengers a climate-friendly, quiet plane – and a good conscience – will laugh all the way to the bank. You only have to look at the auto industry. Part of the reason why investors have money burning a hole in their pockets is that they missed out on Tesla.

A wonderful experience

It just so happens that, at the time of writing, I’m driving a Tesla all over Italy. There are still very few electric vehicles here (and the further south you go, the fewer you see), and the Model S, which is now a common family car in Norway, attracts as much “attenzione” in Italy as a Lamborghini Aventador. Besides, it’s a wonderful experience to move silently through the vineyards with the top down in the low yellow light before darkness falls. And the absence of a cloud of exhaust fumes trailing behind me makes it all the more beautiful.

The future of the auto industry is electric. There’s no doubt about it. Even the present is electric. But somewhere in the mountains in Abruzzo I discovered an uncomfortable truth: the amazing power of an internal combustion engine. There are still some areas where the electric vehicle is outdone: with a petrol-powered car I could have avoided spending endless hours at charging stations; I could have chosen other routes; and I could have driven to out-of-the-way places that lie far beyond the reach of any charging station. I would have avoided having a tiny heart attack from having just about enough battery power to reach a charger but making a wrong turn at a traffic circle and ending up on a freeway heading in the wrong direction.

But things could have been worse. I could have been flying a plane.

Here’s my theory: the further you are from the ground, the greater your range anxiety. If my Tesla runs out of power on a roadside somewhere in Tuscany, theoretically I’ll have time to down a bistecca and glass of a decent Brunello while I wait for roadside assistance. If a plane runs out of power at 20,000 feet, theoretically I’ll have time to say a short prayer before it’s all definitively over.

The apparently insurmountable problem is that the need for more battery capacity increases exponentially with the distance from the ground. Moving a plane carrying cargo and passengers from one place to another demands a colossal amount of energy.

Heavy as lead

In an ideal world, the airlines would simply have replaced the fuel engines in an already approved plane. It would be faster, cheaper and simpler than going all the way back to the drawing board. But it’s not that simple. Electric engines require batteries which (currently) are as heavy as lead. A plane that is approved with an engine weighing, let’s say, one ton with a full fuel tank, would not be able to fly with an electric engine that weighed ten tons with batteries. So, to reduce the weight, you would need to reduce the battery capacity – and consequently the range.

This is what’s giving the industry its biggest headache right now. If enough batteries were crammed into a Boeing 737 to make it possible to fly from London to New York, the plane would be so heavy that it would sink into the runway rather than take off from it. Nor would there be any space for passengers or cargo, which would make the whole exercise pointless anyway.

Big electric passenger planes will therefore not be a reality until the batteries are made considerably smaller and more efficient. We will get there sooner or later, but even the developers says we’re at least a couple of decades away – unless, that is, stopping over 30 times between Stockholm and Rome becomes a viable business model. But this doesn’t mean that electric planes are a bad idea.

Some of these developers may well succeed, but many will be kept afloat by tall tales and naive investors

Loads of companies are now working on developing electric aircraft. Tiny helicopter-like vehicles that can be used as taxis or delivery vehicles are generating the most hype. Many of them look ultra-cool, resembling the futuristic drawings we did in elementary school in the 1980s, with people wearing silver clothes, eating pills instead of food and whizzing around with jet packs and flying cars.

Some of these developers may well succeed, but many will be kept afloat by tall tales and naive investors. Many have already failed, and more will follow. The most exciting and promising developments are happening in the more conventional part of the aviation industry. Only once passenger planes become electric will they really take off.

Two trends stand out

SAS is collaborating with Airbus, United with Swedish startup Heart, and Easyjet with the American startup Wright Electric, and so on. Most of the airlines are desperate to get an electric plane into the air because it could prove profitable – and sooner than you might expect.
If you compare today’s aviation industry with that of the 1980s, two trends stand out:

  • The regional airports are increasingly underused.
  • The airlines are flying bigger planes with more seats.

These trends are driven by the fact that the cost of buying and maintaining an aircraft engine is roughly the same regardless of size and trip distance. This makes small passenger aircraft for short routes less profitable. In the 1980s, the average number of seats on regional flights was 20, whereas today it’s 80.

This does not necessarily favour the interests of passengers; they have to spend more time and money on reaching the large airports, they depart from somewhere far from home and land somewhere far from their final destination, and do so in huge, noisy and polluting planes.

Regional flight might be profitable

Investors and founders of companies like Heart and Eviation in Israel claim that the cost of buying and maintaining an electric engine is a fraction of the same cost for a fuel engine, and that electrification can therefore make regional flights using small aircraft profitable again.

In September Rolls-Royce completed a successful 15-minute flight test in “Spirit of Innovation”, an all-electric aircraft in the south of England. The aircraft only has one seat, but the experience gained will be used to develop a passenger aircraft.

Tecnam in Italy is hoping to have an all-electric aircraft with a capacity for nine passengers in the air in 2026, complete with a Rolls-Royce engine. Norway’s Widerøe has shown an interest, since a large proportion of its flights cover short distances in northern Norway. The range at the time of launch will be around 200 kilometres. Heart Aerospace, which is based outside Gothenburg in Sweden, is working on an electric plane for 19 passengers. The range at the time of launch will be 400 kilometres.

Sceptics would dismiss these performance properties as ridiculous compared to fuel aircraft, in terms of both passenger capacity and range. But here’s the interesting part: 400 kilometres is enough to cover around 80 percent of the routes in markets like those in the Scandinavian countries. Other interesting markets for this type of aircraft include island-hopping in countries like Indonesia, Greece, Japan and the Philippines, or indeed any country with mountain ranges or lakes that take a long time to traverse. Or for moving troops and crews. Air ambulance services. You name it.

This summer, the American airline company United placed an order for 100 of these aircraft with Heart.

Severe economic impact

It’s happening now … or soon will be, at least.

As we know, the aviation industry was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Few people wanted to travel, and those who did were not allowed. The airlines’ revenue streams dried up, and orders for new aircraft and engines were cancelled.

The economic impacts were severe. Rolls-Royce lost 4.5 billion USD in 2020, and had to cut around 7,000 jobs to save money as well as make some tough priorities in other parts of its operations. This will likely delay deliveries of new engines by several years, which in turn may create delays for Tecnam and Widerøe. So the chances of sitting in an electric plane any time soon are slim, though it may well be a reality by 2030.

In the meantime, see you on Teams.

Joacim Lund

Joacim Lund
Technology commentator, Aftenposten
Years in Schibsted: 16

Waging the war for talent

Waging the war for talent

Waging the war for talent

Waging the war for talent

Global talent shortage is on the top agenda for all organisations. In Schibsted, new ideas on how to address this are up for discussion. Offering partly remote work to employees is one key effort. We also look into some more key people trends.

Talent shortages are at record highs and unemployment at multi-decade lows. According to Gartner’s Emerging Risks Survey 2021, global talent shortage is now the top emerging risk for all organisations. Technology driven organisations also anticipate skill gaps in key roles post-pandemic, while dealing with one of the highest global attrition rates, at 13.2 percent annually.

Research also shows that 46 percent of the global workforce is potentially planning to change jobs as they now can work remotely. Remote job postings on Linkedin have increased five times since the pandemic outbreak. We are entering a talent migration that is larger than anything we have seen before, where many people are rethinking not just how we work, but why we work. More people will be doing work they love at companies they feel passionate about, leading to greater success for organisations which engage their employees with empathy, trust and purpose.

To tackle what is to come, employers need to step up their game to continuously develop and reskill their workforce and rethink how they can attract and recruit talent.

At Schibsted, we recognise these challenges, but also the opportunity to support and enable the building of new workplace norms that lead to both greater employee fulfilment and better business results.

Investing in a talent agenda with new solutions for hybrid work, personal development and employee experience will be crucial to succeed in the unprecedented war for talent that we are up against.

These are some of our ideas to meet the challenges:

Trusted leadership

We know from research that companies with superior leadership outperform other companies on the entire talent agenda. As role models, our leaders are key drivers of culture as well as the strategic agenda. We believe that continuous leadership training and programs to build on our principles and group strategy will be as important as ever.

Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

In September 2021 Schibsted hired its first Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (read the interview with Sumeet Singh Patpatia on pages 54–55). This is the first step to establish a group-wide approach to the question on how Schibsted can create competitive advantage through an inclusive culture.

Inspire people to grow

Research confirms that the main reason employees leave an organisation and the primary reason they join are career opportunities. At the same time, 75 percent of organisations are anticipating skills gaps in key roles. In Schibsted we have taken the first steps in building a “learning organisation”. We believe our ability to learn and translate the learning into action rapidly, is an ultimate competitive advantage. Our

Learning organisation strategy includes:

  • Dedicated time for development (ten percent within tech)
  • Sharing learning processes and practices through common learning platforms
  • Strategic plans for competence development for all employees
  • Increasing the level of cross-Schibsted employee mobility
  • From industry to graduate hire at scale

We strongly believe that hiring for learnability will be the sustainable approach for the future. Acquiring learnability and providing unproven talent with great learning opportunities and career paths are keys to success to attract and retain talent.

Read more: People trends in short

Mette Krogsrud

Mette Krogsrud
EVP people & Corporate Affairs
Years in Schibsted: 8.5

Why groupthink is bad for business

Why groupthink is bad for business

Why groupthink is bad for business
Sumeet Singh Patpatia has been interested in diversity issues for a long time. For twelve years, he’s been organising Turban Day in Oslo. Its goal is to make Norway the best country in the world to be different in.

Why groupthink is bad for business

His aim is to make his newly created role obsolete, and to make Schibsted the world’s best workplace when it comes to being different. Sumeet Singh Patpatia is Schibsted’s Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging.

“When I grew up, I was one of only three kids with dark skin in the whole of my preschool. I was always different, and I lived in two different worlds: the Norwegian one outside my home and the one inside my family, and I had to learn how to navigate both.”

It’s this experience that led Sumeet Singh Patpatia to his role as Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in Schibsted. By living in those two separate worlds, he learned early on that there were advantages to understanding other groups, though up to now his interest in overcoming differences had been something he did in his own time. In his professional life he worked on digital transformation and business development.

“I didn’t know you could do it as a job! I’ve been interested in these issues since I was a teenager, but only in my spare time.”

Crucial for the business

The reason why he can now bring this interest into his professional life is the growing insight in Schibsted that we need to act proactively to achieve a more diverse workforce – and that we’ll lose our competitive edge if we don’t. It’s crucial for attracting the best talents, for developing products and for innovation.

“Many companies have a challenge in reflecting the population. If we always recruit people who are like ourselves, we’ll have a problem; we’ll miss out on a lot of the talent out there”, says Sumeet, who also stresses the importance of drawing on different perspectives in product development.

“If you want to innovate and enter new markets, you need to hear multiple perspectives. Groupthink can be bad for business.”

But he also thinks it’s easy to lose sight of diversity from the traditional perspective when what really matters is inclusion, and that many people today feel excluded even though outwardly they seem to belong to the group of people they work with.

“Being excluded hurts. Some research show that social and physical pain has the same effect on our brains.”

Raising awareness and providing tools

In practical terms, Sumeet’s role is to ensure that Schibsted has diversity competency and diversity maturity, and that these are connected to inclusion and belonging. In the first phase he will analyse what that looks like by talking to many people throughout the organisation. The next step is to devise a plan which he already knows will include training for managers.

“It’s about raising awareness, but also about providing managers with tangible tools. As a manager, how comfortable are you meeting someone who is blind, has a different sexual orientation from you or who wears a turban? Do you dare to be curious and try to understand what it means? That’s where my role comes in.”

Hi also thinks that in Schibsted today there is a lot of diversity which isn’t utilized to the fullest.

“Potentially there is a lot of value in giving this diversity a voice. Thus, it is not just about recruiting diversity, but more importantly including diversity. Including all.”

As a Sikh, Sumeet wears a turban. It also plays a role in the project he’s most proud of. For twelve years now he’s been one of the organisers of the Norwegian Turban Day in Oslo, an international event staged in April every year to raise awareness of Sikhs and of the turban as part of their culture and religion. The Oslo event’s goal is to make Norway the world’s best country to be different in and the general public is invited to wear a turban for a day. Sumeet refers to it as a roundabout way of “mimicking” another culture, but he thinks it has a lot of value for understanding others. And he now sees that the Turban Day project succeeded in that; in a recent survey on the level of acceptance of various symbols in Norway, the turban ranked a joint third with the Christian cross.

Now he’s committed to making the Schibsted project the one he’ll be most proud of: “We’re going to make sure that you and I and everyone can bring our whole selves to the workplace.”

Ann Axelsson

Ann Axelsson
Senior Product Manager, Strategic Communications
Years in Schibsted: 23