Fredrika Klarén is Head of Sustainability at Polestar.
How does the reality of your job compare to what people think you do?
When I say that I work with sustainability, I don't know if everyone has a clear image of what that is, and that's good because it's an area that is constantly changing. Generally, I would say that I don't see a huge gap though. After working with sustainability for ten years, I'm still trying to figure out the reality of what I do myself. That's what I love about it.
What is the best part of your job?
Oh, there are so many. I get to interact with so many interesting areas within Polestar, and I also get to collaborate with interesting innovators or scientists and hear their perspectives.
A big drive for me is being able to make a difference. When I started working at Polestar, I was blown away by the drive that each and every person has to actually make things happen. They don’t just want to sit and talk about the different sustainability issues that we have. That gives me a lot of energy.
What job would you like to have if you didn't have this one?
Oceanographer. Before I started my university studies, I had to decide between going into Environmental Sciences or Oceanography. I come from an island outside Gothenburg and many of my family work at sea. My father is actually a captain. I just love the ocean and being outdoors. So, that is kind of the only downside of my job; that I'm often indoors, when actually I have a real desire to be working outdoors.
Can you tell us about a trend that is shaping the area you work with at the moment?
Well, there are a lot of interesting trends within sustainability at the moment. The connection between digitalisation and sustainability for example. We can start using tools for traceability as a way of increasing transparency and having more of a sustainability impact in value chains. This will have a significant impact on the sustainability of our supply chains. So that is a huge trend of course.
Another trend is that of “exponential tech”, which gives me hope. That means that we will actually keep increasing the pace of technological advances yearly. Right now, everyone is trying to figure out how we can become climate neutral in time to stop the temperature rising by 1.5 degrees. That is where I hope that exponential tech will come in and increase the pace going forward until we no longer think linearly about sustainability.
Also, there’s the movement from using conventional materials to new and innovative materials. Materials are basically at the core of the different environmental impacts that we have, whether it is pollution and energy use, or social impacts on workers’ rights and safety issues, especially in connection to the extraction and refinement of raw materials. We're going from using mostly a few chosen materials (like conventional polyester or steel) to trying out new innovative and circular materials on a smaller scale.
We don't have to find this one-size-fits-all solution, but instead we can work with a variety of solutions.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
There is a glorification of war and war-mongering that I find so sickening. Sales of weapon is a driver of conflicts, and it is always innocent people who suffer the most. I would like to have the superpower of Magneto from the X-Men. Then I could collect all the weapons and bullets in the world and just get rid of them.
To go EV, or not to go EV. That’s no longer a question. To stay within the 1.5 degree target, emissions must be halved by 2030 and eliminated altogether by 2050. And while EVs are not perfect today, they do offer a route to net-zero. But to provide clean mobility, they need to be charged with clean energy. How can we make sure that happens?
There are the sounds of Polestar: the idling, driving, and reversing sounds created by sound engineers to let bystanders know when the all-electric Polestar 2 is in motion. Then, there’s the Polestar sound: the music that encapsulates the brand, that is as much a part of our identity as our design language, our colour palette, and our symbol. And to create it, we enlisted the help of Lisa Nordström.
Sustainability is a unifying topic. One of the defining issues of the current age, the push for greater sustainability must span everything, every industry sector, every geography. Accordingly, it makes sense to collaborate. To unite those already engaged in the quest for a more sustainable future.