Climate change is a window of opportunity for Finland

09.03.2015 | Ajankohtaista, Kirjoitukset

(Julkaistu Helsinki Times-lehdessä lokakuussa 2014)

Because of global warming and climate change, energy and climate policy are key issues for the whole humanity. They are very important for me as well. I have worked around them as engineer and for the last 18 years as politician.

Global warming is a serious threat, but at the same time it is an opportunity for the Finnish companies to create new business. Cleantech industry is a rising field of business in Finland and there is lots of know-how on resource saving solutions.

Finland is also one of the world’s leading countries in bioenergy. Neste Oil, the world’s biggest producer of biofuels, is a good example of a successful Finnish cleantech company. The strength of Finland is that we have a diverse set of energy sources. In order to increase the share of bioenergy, the government of Finland has recently raised subsidies for wood in energy generation and decreased taxes on peat.

Former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen set up a parliamentary committee on energy and climate issues in June 2013 to prepare a roadmap of climate and energy policy to the year 2050. The committee consists of two representatives of each parliamentary group. I represented the National Coalition Party in the committee with the Minister of Economy Jan Vapaavuori.

Now the roadmap is ready. The target is that Finland would be a carbon neutral society in 2050. It is not an easy target at all. The carbon neutral Finland 2050 requires decreasing the carbon dioxide emissions 80-95 percent from the level of the 1990s. It is based on European Council’s decision from 2009 to cut emissions.

The first step is to decrease emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and raise the share of renewable energy sources to 20 percent while at the same time increasing energy efficiency by 20 percent. Along with these targets the EU member states are negotiating on new targets which are supposed to extend to year 2030. While writing this column the negotiations on the EU’s 2030 targets are still in the making.

The global climate conference will be arranged in Paris next year. Leaders of the world will meet in Paris in order to negotiate new global climate targets which intend to complete the Kyoto principles. In Paris the EU should negotiate as a unified front. This time we must be more successful than in Copenhagen 2009.

In order to achieve the goal we should not choose just one path. The carbon neutral Finland 2050 requires actions on all levels: state, regions, municipalities, corporations and households. Crucial factors are renewable energy, transportation, energy efficiency, cleantech and participation of the whole society. In these areas many Finnish companies are world elite. Therefore the climate change is not only a threat, it is an opportunity as well.

Marjo Matikainen-Kallström

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