Finnish government is not doing enough to fight climate crisis, says Climate Change Panel

THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) is not doing enough to combat the climate emergency, views the Finnish Climate Change Panel.

The independent expert panel last week issued a statement urging the government to “listen” to the science and waste no more time in implementing effective climate measures, such as reducing emissions from peatlands without “imposing the costs on farmers”.

The experts also urged the government to implement policies that reduce logging, reminding that high logging volumes are one of the primary reasons for the recent dramatic decline in carbon sinks. Logging volumes, it highlighted, have exceeded the limits of sustainability from the perspective of wood production in ten regions – not to mention from the perspectives of climate and nature.

“Finland has to be able to produce a vision for reducing the use of domestic wood while increasing its added value,” the statement reads.

The Climate Change Panel also pointed out that climate inaction is believed to be much more expensive than action. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in March estimated that the aggregate cost of inaction will be roughly 1,266 trillion US dollars in 2025–2100, compared with the cost of containing global heating below 1.5°C.

“This figure is, however, likely to be a dramatic underestimate,” said the WMO.

Neither Finland’s economy nor security will be immune to the direct and indirect effects of the constantly advancing climate emergency, reminded the Climate Change Panel. “By doing its share of the joint emission reductions in the EU, Finland will have an impact that is greater than its size,” the experts noted.

The government, they added, has an opportunity to update the measures set forth in the climate and energy strategy that will be submitted to the EU by 30 June.

The current measures will see the country not meet its commitments.

“The decisions and measures the government has made so far are insufficient relative to the legally binding objectives,” the experts stated. “Determined action is required in the land-use and transport sectors to achieve the jointly agreed objectives. The Climate Act and Finland’s EU obligations call for an immediate reversal of course.”

Passed during the last electoral term, the act lays down the objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. To the EU, Finland has promised to halve emissions in the burden-sharing sector from the baseline year of 2005 by 2030.

The burden-sharing sector refers to industries not covered by the emissions trading scheme, such as agriculture, heating and transport.

The Climate Change Panel noted that the government has made decisions that will only increase emissions in transport, such as that to lower the distribution obligation for renewable fuels and slash taxes on fossil fuels.

The government is thereby hindering the electrification of road transport by “maintaining low pump prices of petrol and diesel” and “sending the wrong message about the price competitiveness of petrol and diesel vehicles”.

Minister of Climate and the Environment Kai Mykkänen (NCP), together with his fellow cabinet members, have repeatedly stated that the government will focus on technical solutions to combat the climate emergency, including by advancing carbon-capture and small modular reactor technologies. It is widely considered unlikely, though, that such technologies will reach scale until the 2030s.

The government has also argued that it is growing the national “climate handprint” – a measure of actions with a positive impact on the climate – by facilitating the export of climate-friendly solutions.

The Climate Change panel acknowledged that emissions in energy generation have decreased faster than expected, largely due to the emissions trading scheme of the EU. Successes in the domain do not, however, eliminate the need to take action to foster carbon sinks and curb transport emissions, it stressed.

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