Jouni Keronen “A Messen­ger of Change”

Interview 08.01.2019

Energy industry veteran Jouni Keronen believes that the spread of good practices will help the world solve the climate crisis. In his view, we need not only networks but also concrete projects – actions. This insight led to the establishment of the Smart & Clean Foundation.


In 2013, Jouni Keronen was feverishly contemplating how he could get business leaders interested in climate change. Keronen had been working in the energy and IT sectors for a long time and had come to the conclusion that leaders often see climate issues as a risk or an obligation, and therefore do not tackle them with enough vigour.

“I had an aha moment as I was giving a lecture on solar energy at the Lappeenranta University of Technology. The international students on the course were presenting ideas on promoting carbon neutrality in their own countries, and I realised how comprehensively climate change changes societies. Reforming transport, energy production and food systems creates huge business opportunities”, Keronen recounts.

Keronen’s insight has since led to many projects that aim to make Finland into a pioneer in climate change mitigation. First, the Climate Leadership Council, now called the Coalition (CLC), was created. It is an association that develops business solutions for mitigating climate change. Keronen is the association’s executive director.

“But it’s not enough to simply have a network. St1’s main owner Mika Anttonen reminded me that a concrete project would help bring about real change. I had been admiring the South Korean island of Jeju, which aims to become the world’s first carbon neutral island. I wanted something equally comprehensive in Finland and this idea began to form into the concept that led to the Smart & Clean Foundation. The foundation became a counterpart to the Jeju Island: it aims to make the Helsinki Region into the best testbed for smart and cleantech solutions”, Keronen explains.

Good solutions must be spread

Keronen has always been interested in seeing the big picture.

“People get information about climate change in bits and pieces: there’s droughts and storms here, and solar energy and innovations there. Providing an overall picture is extremely important to counter the stream of fragmented information. Expounding on the effects of climate change has helped me bring lots of new members to the CLC.”

These days, Keronen often presents good Finnish practices to influential leaders. There is global interest in the activities of both the CLC and Smart & Clean.

“I’m delighted to be presenting Smart & Clean’s operating model all over the world. It’s such a great concept that all urban areas could make use of it”, Keronen says.

However, according to Keronen, sometimes good practices spread painfully slowly. He would hope for change right now so that the goals of the Paris Agreement can be achieved.

“There should be about a ninefold increase in investment in clean energy solutions for us to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. An important step in such a major change is getting good practices to spread much better than they currently are. I work towards it every day.”