Finland aims at 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
Government report calls for tougher building standards, more electric cars and less waste
A government report on climate issues aims at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The government’s climate expert, MP Oras Tynkkynen (Green) says that this is to be achieved through eliminating energy wastage in housing, transport, and food production.
Tynkkynen also said that people would be steered in the direction of life with low emissions through various incentives and obligations.
An 80 per cent reduction in emissions means that the country’s total level of emissions would be about the same as what comes now from transport alone.
Buildings will have to use 60 per cent less energy than they no now, cars will emit between 10 and 20 per cent of the present levels of carbon dioxide, and that waste management would no longer involve the kinds of landfills that are used today.
For ordinary citizens, this will mean more stringent building standards, more electric cars on the roads, and the use of biological fuels in those cars that still have internal combustion engines.
The ultimate aim will be for buildings not to need any external heating energy, and for the transport of humans to be emission-free.
Prime Minister and Centre Party leader Matti Vanhanen feels that as Finland moves toward lower emissions, the emphasis on a dense community structure and reduced transport will decrease.
At a press conference on Thursday Vanhanen said that the goal of a cut in emissions of 80 per cent would make Finland a leader in solving the climate crisis. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) has estimated the need for industrialised countries to reduce emissions to be between 80 and 95 per cent.
Tynkkynen pointed out that it is possible to revise the goal upwards later. He added that this is the first time that Finland has ever set a long-term target for emission cuts.
Vanhanen noted that a few years ago it was feared that cutting emissions by just 20 per cent would lead to job losses. Now the idea of reducing emissions by 80 per cent is seen as too modest.
In its report, the government calls for tougher building standards for new construction, and calls for repairs to old buildings. The plan does not call for equally severe standards on cars or agriculture.
“It is possible to affect buildings through national norms, but Finland is a rather small car industry country. In agriculture we must accept the idea that when we operate with plants and animals, developing technology is more difficult”, Vanhanen explained.
He emphasised, however, that he wants “to help the consumer make sustainable food choices”. For instance, consumers could be given a model of a meal that follows climate recommendations.
The report does not put any price estimates on cutting emissions. Further study will also be needed on community structure, the climate impact of food, and road use fees.
While it mentions nuclear energy as a way to replace energy production that causes emissions, the report does not take a clear stand on the amount of nuclear energy that would be needed.
Green League chairwoman, Minister of Labour Anni Sinnemäki emphasised that reaching the goal of cutting emissions would not necessarily require more nuclear construction. National Coalition Party leader, Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen feels that cutting greenhouse gas emissions will require more nuclear power.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Fewer Finns willing to pay for climate protection (8.10.2009)
Finnish greenhouse emissions within Kyoto protocol framework (5.10.2009)
Vanhanen: Climate technology can help in downturn (17.10.2008)
Lehtomäki visits Moscow to discuss Copenhagen climate goals (16.10.2009)