The leader of Swedish pensions and insurance group Folksam has called for a greater focus on climate mitigation in the plan to reboot the economic after the coronavirus crisis, saying there is now an opportunity to turn the crisis around.

Ylva Wessén, Folksam’s chief executive officer, said in a column: “The government, parliament and Swedish MEPs need to act decisively to accelerate the development towards climate neutrality through the corona[virus] restart packages.”

The CEO of the SEK462bn (€45bn) pension provider said she was convinced that sustainable companies generated stronger long-term returns, adding that the firm’s analysis showed the risk of insurance customers suffering nature-related damage was now twice as high as 30 years ago.

Wessén said that when the COVID-19 crisis hit, there had been no time to take climate into account, and large amounts of stimulus packages from governments and central banks had then gone to fossil-fuel intensive industries.

The emergency aid had seen SEK4.5trn globally going to fossil-intensive sectors not taking climate action, SEK160bn going to fossil-intensive industries which had certain climate measures in place and only SEK100bn to renewable energy, she said.

“The EU is investing almost €7.8trn in the EU’s corona[virus] recovery package. In Sweden’s and the EU’s long-term investments, climate change now needs to be managed,” Wessén said.

In Sweden, she said the government, with the support of the coalition parties, had presented a SEK105bn budget to restart the economy.

“Approximately SEK11bn of the restart budget is invested in green restarts. It’s a lot of money, but only a tenth of the total restart budget,” she added.

Wessén compared Sweden’s figure to that of France, where a third of the restart budget was pledged to climate mitigation, and said the EU was also promising that 30% of its aid package would go towards climate change measures through green bonds.

“We now have the opportunity to turn the crisis around so that we are better equipped for the future. We are ready to invest for the future,” the CEO said.

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