Parliamentarians debate impact of possible nitrogen directive on shipping
With the new European Union directive restricting sulphur emissions from shipping something of a fait accompli, Members of Parliament used the ongoing budget debate to discuss other possible environmental obligations that might be placed on maritime transport, which could have a negative impact on Finnish exports.
The issue was first taken up by Jari Myllykoski (Left Alliance), who asked if there might be "other traps ahead that we have not yet noticed or recognised".
"I would hope that shooting ourselves in the foot would end at least during this government term", Myllykoski said.
Reduction of nitrogen emissions in the Baltic Sea area is already under preparation at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
According to Myllykoski, the Baltic Sea countries want to have the Baltic Sea area declared a special area where restrictions on smoke emissions from ships are more severe than in other places.
This time, however, the matter is proceeding with political guidance, so no surprises should occur. It would seem that the more severe restrictions on nitrogen emissions would apply only to new vessels.
Limits on ships’ emissions also got support from the chamber. "We shouldn’t take fright at all environmental protection", said Oras Tynkkynen (Green).
"It is in the interest of a small country like Finland that environmental protection should be promoted through international treaties. Things will go badly if we try to cut emissions and the international community is not with us."
Riitta Myller (SDP) agreed. "Finland should be in the group that promotes strict environmental norms."
Centre Party MP Paula Lehtomäki noted that since the 1990s Finland has consistently been one of the main supporters of protection of the Baltic Sea. "It does not mean shooting one’s self in the foot", said Lehtomäki, who previously served as Minister of the Environment.
"The emission restrictions will not take effect until the International Maritime Organisation’s 160 member states reach agreement on the limits."
Like Myller, Lehtomäki predicted that tougher rules will create markets for Finnish manufacturers of environmental technology.
The Centre Party’s Anu Vehviläinen has been the focus of criticism because she served as Minister of Transport in 2008 when the decision was made to cut back on sulphur in ships’ fuel.
"People have been searching more for guilty parties than for solutions", she said in the evening.
Vehviläinen sees the installation of sulphur scrubbers on ships as a temporary solution. Her long-term solution for ships’ fuel is liquefied natural gas (LNG).
LNG terminals were also seen as a possibility for the future by Jari Lindström (Finns Party). He also mentioned the manufacture of biofuel, and taking a "logistical look at the possibilities of the Northeast Passage".
Minister of Economic Affairs Jyri Häkämies (Nat. Coalition Party) admitted that sulphur scrubbers are a modest start in supporting maritime traffic. "Liquefied natural gas is the fuel that shipping lines are preparing for, and with which we can avoid the impact of the sulphur directive."
Previously in HS International Edition:
EU Parliament passes new sulphur directive - despite protests by Finland (12.9.2012)