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The European Commission's so-called winter package has raised concerns within the forest industry in Finland.
The European Commission's so-called winter package has raised concerns within the forest industry in Finland.

The European Commission's so-called winter package, a package of proposals designed to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy, has stirred up unrest within the forest industry in Finland.

The package, which is scheduled for publication next week, can have far-reaching consequences for the domestic bio-economy and forest industry, and thus for the economy at large.

The European Commission is expected to propose the adoption of union-wide sustainability criteria for the use of biomass in energy production – a prospect that is not enticing for a country that has launched a number of major investments in the bio-economy and for which wood energy is an integral aspect of the bio-economy and renewable energy strategy.

It would also be already the second blow to the bio-economy and forest industry in Finland in 2016.

The European Commission's earlier proposal for new land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) rules would define the country's forests as a source of carbon dioxide emissions rather than a carbon sink, according to calculations made by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). The commission's own calculations, by contrast, would define the forests as a carbon sink, reports Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, the official mouthpiece of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK).

Riikka Pakarinen, the director of government relations at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, says both of the proposals stir up concerns about the future of bio-economy and forestry in Finland.

“How do we guarantee that forests can still be used in Finland, sustainably, for the needs of the bio-economy, in accordance with existing plans?” she says to Uusi Suomi. “Both [proposals] entail the risk that […] forest use in Finland will be limited heavily by the commission.”

The European Union and the European Commission are seemingly taking a more active role in forest policy-making in Europe, a policy area that has traditionally been left to national-level decision-makers.

Pakarinen, an ex-Member of the European Commission for the Centre Party, reminds that both of the proposals remain on the drawing board. The LULUCF rules are to be presented to the European Parliament in January, while the proposal for sustainability criteria has yet to be finalised.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Uusi Suomi

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