A parliamentary task force has published its interim report on measures to halve transport emissions in Finland relative to the level of 2005 by 2030.
The task force says it will seek to cut transport emissions by promoting the registration of low-emission vehicles, adjusting the tax and regulatory environment, improving the operating environment for public transport, and promoting the shift towards transport as a service.
“The proposed measures will help us move in the right direction in reducing transport emissions,” Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications, affirmed in a press release on Wednesday.
“The objectives are very ambitious, and a variety of measures and genuine commitment will be required to reach them. The intention has been to distribute the measures evenly so that the effects on industries, different regions and groups of people are reasonable.”
Berner is the chairperson of the parliamentary task force.
A total of 16 million euros will be budgeted annually for the measures, as per an agreement reached earlier by the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).
The tax force proposes that six million euros be set aside for cash rebates that encourage consumers to purchase electric vehicles and do flex-fuel conversions in 2018–2021. It also believes four million euros should be allocated for developing the charge point network and another four million euros for promoting the use of public transport in urban areas.
The Finnish government should also resort to tax measures to promote the use of electric and other low-emission vehicles. Such measures could include placing greater emphasis on emissions in calculating the car tax and the tax deductibility of commuting expenses.
The task force proposes that an additional two million euros a year be allocated for promoting rail traffic covered by public service obligations. In addition, it argues that measures to develop the stock of company cars in a more low-emission direction should be explored.
The Finnish government confirmed yesterday in unveiling its budget for next year that the measures proposed by the task force will be introduced. It also said an additional eight million euros will be earmarked for measures to modernise the vehicle stock and reinstate the so-called scrappage initiative. The initiative offers consumers who are willing to scrap their old, over 10-year-old car a cash rebate when buying a new car.
Measures not enough for Greens, too much for Finns Party
The interim report was complemented with statements from both the Green League and Finns Party.
The Green League urged the task force to re-evaluate the sufficiency of the measures and commit to supplementing them if necessary at a later date. It also voiced its concern about the means used to assess the environmental impact of biofuels, which according to the proposal should account for 30 per cent of transport fuels in Finland by 2030.
The Finns Party, in turn, expressed its concern that the proposal to raise the fuel tax would indirectly bump up all transport costs and, as a result, undermine the competitiveness of domestic heavy-vehicle transport.
“Almost all studies have concluded that fuel taxes and increases in them have an effect especially on the residents of rural areas,” reads the statement from the opposition party.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva