Temperatures may rise up to nine degrees in Finland in 100 years
PM Vanhanen sees UN Climate Report as serious warning
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) feels that the figures in the Untied Nations Climate Report are so alarming that they must be taken seriously. "Downplaying climate change must be stopped immediately", Vanhanen said on Friday.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Friday that in the next 100 years, temperatures on the earth would rise between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius. In Finland the range would be 1.5 to 9 degrees.
Vanhanen is calling for more effective energy conservation and better energy efficiency. He wants to radically reduce the use of coal and oil in the production of electricity and heating.
The Prime Minister urged large cities such as Helsinki to rethink their ways of producing energy, and suggested that Stockholm might serve as a model.
Finance Minister Eero Heinäluoma (SDP) saw the report as alarming: "Climate change is caused by humans. There is significant consensus on this. There is no uncertainty as to whether or not this is true."
"As a citizen I think about my own children. Their most important message is that the earth must be handed down to the next generation in a reasonable state. People have reason to take responsibility on a personal level", Heinäluoma noted.
He set as his goal shaking off dependence on oil by 2030. He does not feel that nuclear energy is a sufficient solution; instead, he wants active measures on behalf of renewable energy sources.
Environment Minister Stefan Wallin (Swed. People’s Party) said that the report is a clear signal of how serious the situation is. "Everyone must monitor his or her own behaviour: lower temperatures, lights off, and all devices on stand by whenever possible."
Matti Viialainen, Vice President of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), would reduce Finnish emissions by authorising the construction of a sixth commercial nuclear reactor, by increasing the use of hydroelectric and wind power, and through more efficient energy conservation.
"Nuclear power is the only one of the big measures that has a larger impact at one go", Viialainen emphasised.
Viialainen urges the government to be vigilant at the European Union summit in March, when the EU will decide on reduced emissions and energy policy on the basis of a proposal by the Commission, "lest the same thing happen that happened last time."
Finland has been assigned the goal of reducing emissions to the level at which they were in 1990, which happened to be a good year for hydroelectric power.
"Before agreeing to anything, the division of the burden among the countries must be clarified."
The Commission has set as its goal reducing the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by one fifth by 2020 through means such as diverse energy production and conservation.
The Commission is not advising its member states on the use of nuclear power, but one aim is to increase the proportion of renewable energy to 20 per cent from the present six per cent.
Finland already produces a quarter of its energy with renewable sources. Viialainen says that agreeing to the Commission’s goal would raise the proportion to 45 per cent.
"A significant proportion of Finnish forests would have to be used for energy production, and the forest industry would be in serious danger", Viialainen noted.
Viialainen said that Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions are 84-88 million tonnes. He calculates that the goal of 58 million tonnes is a fairly distant target.
At the Confederation of Finnish Industry (EK), the association’s head of infrastructure, Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala, emphasised the importance of a diverse mix of energy, which also includes nuclear power.
"There is potential in biomass, but the new government must draw up a strategy on how to secure its use both in energy production, and as a raw material."
EK believes that industry could reduce emissions by two million tonnes through conservation. Increasing hydroelectric power might reduce emissions by about one million tonnes. One nuclear reactor the size of the new one that is being built in Olkiluoto could be seen to reduce emissions by 10 million tonnes.