The European Commission has presented its recommendations for measures to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon economy to all 28 member states of the European Union.
Finland will be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by sectors not covered by the emissions trading system by 39 per cent compared to 2005 before the end of the next decade, more than any other member state except for Luxembourg and Sweden. Sectors not covered by the trading scheme include the agriculture, buildings, forestry, transport and waste sectors.
The emissions target is higher than expected, says Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of Agriculture and the Environment.
“It is stricter than expected as we were prepared for a target of 37–38 per cent. We must carefully review the calculation methods and source data used by the commission,” he says in a press release from the Ministry of the Environment.
“Flexibilities are being offered to help us meet the high target, but uncertainties over whether or not they can be utilised persist,” adds Tiilikainen.
Finland, he reminds, has already prepared for the next decade by laying out the most important measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – namely, halving the use of imported oil and raising the share of renewable transport fuels to 40 per cent – in the government programme.
- The European Union agreed in October 2014 to impose a binding economy-wide emissions reduction target of at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990.
- The energy and industrial sectors covered by the emissions trading system will be required to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005.
- Sectors not covered by the trading system, such as agriculture, forestry, land-use and transport, will be required to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005.
Source: the European Commission
The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has similarly voiced its concerns about what it estimates is an excessive reduction target.
“Finland's emissions reduction target will increase from the current 16 per cent to 39 per cent for the next time period that extends until 2030. [The Government Institute for Economic Research] VATT and [the Technical Research Centre of Finland] VTT, for example, have estimated that such a target will translate to a notable rise in transportation costs,” Tiina Haapasalo, a leading expert at EK, says in a press release.
Finland should consequently leave no stone unturned to reach a more just outcome, according to EK.
Jyrki Katainen (NCP), the European Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, states in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat that he recognises the proposal has taken many by surprise in Finland. It did, after all, stir up similar reactions in a number of other member states.
“[The targets] are the sum of many indicators. Governments will obviously review them with the commission to make sure the playing field is level for everyone,” he told the daily.
Luxembourg and Sweden, for example, will be expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent, and France and the United Kingdom by 37 per cent by 2030, according to the targets doled out by the European Commission.
Katainen stresses in a press release from the European Commission that the strategy should be seen as another element of the ongoing effort to modernise the common economy and strengthen the internal market.
“It defines key priorities on the way to low-emission mobility and gives clear guidance for future investors. It contributes to our goals which do not change over time – we want to create conditions for our industry to be more competitive and able to provide quality jobs,” he says.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Irene Stachon – Lehtikuva