A climate change protester dressed as a polar bear sat on the stairs of the Finnish Parliament House in Helsinki on Friday, 21 December 2018. (Credit: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

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Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing.

The Finns Party abandoned the task force last week, saying the goals discussed by the other parties were too ambitious.

The remaining eight parties stated last week that both Finland and the European Union should reform their climate policies in order to ensure they can do their part in limiting global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

“The EU should design its long-term climate actions in a way that it achieves carbon-neutrality before 2050,” the joint statement reads.

The parties acknowledged that achieving carbon-neutrality by the midway point of the century will necessitate that the emissions reduction target for 2030 is raised from the current 40 per cent to at least 55 per cent compared to the levels of 1990. The EU, they added, should also globally promote carbon pricing, carbon footprint calculation and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“As the entire world moves toward carbon-neutrality, an ambitious climate policy will also support the competitiveness of European industries,” they highlighted.

Emissions trading scheme must be developed further

Another crucial aspect is developing emissions trading within the EU, according to the eight parties.

The union should place further emphasis on the emissions trading scheme in adopting stricter reduction targets to ensure energy and industrial production proceed toward carbon-neutrality across member states.

Finland, they pledged, will contribute actively to the development of the emissions trading scheme in a way that the pricing of emissions rights encourages cutting emissions efficiently and rapidly while nurturing the competitiveness of European industries.

“The number of emissions rights entering the market annually must be reduced clearly more than the current 2.2 per cent a year, unused emissions rights must be annulled and the emissions trading scheme must be expanded to cover, for example, building-specific cooling and heating,” they outlined.

“The coverage of the emissions trading scheme for aviation must additionally be expanded.”

Finland to produce negative greenhouse gas emissions in 2040s

Finland, meanwhile, should adopt stricter national emissions reduction targets and take action to ensure its carbon sinks more than offset its greenhouse gas emissions no later than in the 2040s. The country should additionally draft a comprehensive carbon sink policy for the land-use sector.

“We will grow Finland’s carbon sinks on a long-term basis by promoting forest growth, launching a major reforestation programme, mitigating deforestation strongly, reducing emissions produced by peat lands and developing carbon capture in agriculture,” the parties pledged.

They also declared that heat and electricity production in the country should be almost emissions free by the end of the 2030s.

Budgeting for sustainable development should be made more efficient by introducing climate resilience assessments into fiscal planning. A larger share of development policy funds, meanwhile, should be allocated for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change and foster carbon sinks.

Both Finland and the EU should additionally step up investment in research, development and innovation activities.

The task force also outlined that the country should promote not only low-emission and emissions-free transport, but also the circular economy and sustainable consumption and production by developing how product carbon footprints are calculated and accounted for.

The task force consisted of representatives of the Blue Reform, Centre Party, Christian Democrats, Green League, Left Alliance, National Coalition, Social Democrats and Swedish People’s Party.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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