THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY came under pressure to clarify its position on forest harvesting in Finland at a debate event organised on Wednesday by Maaseudun Tulevaisuus and the Central Organisation of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK).
Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the opposition party, stirred up concerns about the future of planned pulp mills in the country last autumn by stating repeatedly that the logging volumes cannot be raised.
Jouni Kemppainen and Niklas Holmberg, the hosts of the event from Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, asked Sanna Marin (SDP), who stood in for the indisposed Rinne, to clarify the position of the Social Democrats.
Rinne became ill with pneumonia at the turn of the year while on a holiday in Spain. He is expected to be on sick leave until the end of January.
“I’ve asked researchers and the Finnish Climate Change Panel many times to tell me what’d be the right harvesting level in terms of climate and biodiversity, but they haven’t been able to give me an answer,” replied Marin. “So I’m not able to give you an exact number of cubic metres for what’s the right level.”
She added that it is pivotal to adopt an impactful carbon sink policy for the land-use sector before making any decisions on timber harvesting volumes. “What’s most important is that Finland’s carbon sinks grow,” she explained.
“If the sinks grow, the harvesting volume can be increased.”
Her reluctance to provide a direct answer provoked a pointed response from both Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo (NCP) and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).
“You can generally say based on the knowledge we have of the size of our carbon sinks that it’s possible to increase harvesting slightly in Finland,” said Orpo.
“That’s why the SDP’s position – which is still unclear to me at least – is problematic, because we’ve got major investments underway all over Finland. And if don’t think it’s possible to increase harvesting in accordance with our current understanding, then the investments will be put on hold. This is a very big question,” he stressed.
Sipilä, in turn, argued that policy makers must be able and prepared to make decisions based on information available to them at any given time and provide an answer to a simple yes-no question.
“That goes also for the SDP,” he said.
Both Marin and Li Andersson, the chairperson of the Left Alliance, also drew attention to the fact that the formulas used by the National Resources Institute Finland (Luke) to calculate the size of carbon sinks are not public.
“Other researchers can’t evaluate them,” said Andersson.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi