When I was a boy Finnish winters used to be cold and snowy. A white Christmas was more of a rule than an exception. Today, things have turned the other way around, at least in the Helsinki region: winters have gradually become rainy and warmer than before. However, globally we are among the very fortunate ones – it can be annoying to walk dark and rainy streets for months but that is nothing compared to the extreme weather conditions caused by climate change in other parts of the world.

Climate change is the most significant single factor that will affect our future in ways we cannot comprehensively foresee. We can expect that its impacts will continue to be harshest on the globally most vulnerable ones. We know that we need to do everything we can to keep global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to under 1,5 degrees. The Paris Climate Agreement is the international framework for working towards this goal.

Finland is determined to meet the goals of both the Paris Agreement as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These global agendas embody the world’s joint commitment to build a sustainable future and to leave no one behind.

But agendas and agreements are useless unless they are implemented. In Finland, we’ve developed concrete action plans for meeting the emission reduction targets specified in the EU2030 package, the European Union’s tool for implementing the Paris Agreement. By 2030, we will for example phase out the use of coal for energy and halve the use of fossil oil and the CO2-emissions from road transport. We will do this by raising the share of renewable energy above 50 % of total energy consumption, by advancing the use of electric vehicles, public transportation and advanced biofuels as well as enhancing energy-efficiency. In the long term, we will need to cut our emissions by at least 80 %. And, we will enhance our carbon sinks with the support of sustainable forest management. Finland’s ambitious aim is to be carbon neutral by 2045.

Getting rid of fossil fuels and energy is of paramount importance in combatting climate change, as they are the main source of CO2 emissions. At the UN Climate Conference in Bonn a couple of weeks back Finland, Canada, the UK and over 20 other partner countries and states founded a global Powering Past Coal alliance to encourage governments, businesses and organisations to phase out traditional coal power.

We also work to enhance circular economy and sustainable urban development both at home and internationally. Circular economy is an economic model where waste and loss are minimised and products and materials are efficiently used and reused for the best possible purposes, for as long as possible. Shared ownership of cars, bicycles or even clothes becomes more and more common. Low-carbon, resource-efficient and smart services are at the core of Finland’s national Urban Development programme, together with enhancing equality and social cohesion.

Finland is on track to achieve its emission reduction goals for 2020. However, we need to keep our eyes on the longer term goals and be quicker in working towards them. And more ambitious. We all need to take action. Today.

Kimmo Tiilikainen
Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing