Climate change is undeniably one of the most substantial factors of our time-altering societies and policies globally. It is a proven fact that almost every country in the world is committed to fighting and mitigating climate change. Besides climate change, we have faced another adversity during the last few months as we have seen how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has changed the world in an unprecedented way.
Global mobility and the economy will not recover for a long time and the way we live our day-to-day life has been perhaps permanently transformed. Still, in the current situation, it is possible to simultaneously advance green transition and economic recovery from this crisis.
Finland’s ambitious goal is to become carbon neutral by 2035. This requires actions in every sector of society. In order to achieve carbon neutrality, Finland has committed to cutting the emissions caused by transport to half compared to the 2005 level. We have our work cut out for us. Yet at the same time, we must make sure that transitioning to lower is executed in a socially and regionally just way.
Transport causes around one-fifth of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Over 90 percent of this is caused by road transport so evidently, transport has the largest potential for reducing emissions. Therefore, a roadmap to carbon-free transport is currently being prepared in Finland. All the various means of reducing transport emissions and achieving the goals set are being examined in this roadmap.
There are, and there needs to be, several different means of reducing emissions. We must increase the use of alternative fuels, renew our vehicles, develop the energy efficiency of our transport system, and if other means are not enough, set the prices for transport and fuels in a way that induces lower emissions. In addition, there is a lot of potential in digitalization and developing infrastructure in a way that reduces emissions.
When reducing emissions, it is important to constantly remember how these chosen actions will affect people. It is of the utmost importance that no one gets trampled by this reform and no one is faced with an unbearable cost.
The repeatedly uttered saying that Finland is a sparsely populated country and a country of long distances is still true. Especially in the rural areas of Finland, a personal car of one’s own is still an essential commodity. Driving is not being banned rather our goal is to make driving carbon neutral. Also, we can not presume that it is possible for everyone to by a new car that has low emission rates. However, the more there are these kinds of cars available, the sooner they will be seen on the market of used cars at a lower cost as well.
The transition towards sustainable transport comes with considerable opportunities both for society and for the individual. Finland has great potential and a lot of know-how in alternative fuel production for example. Especially synthetic fuels have substantial possibilities considering the Finnish export industry.
Even during the prevailing corona crisis, we must look forward. Now is our chance to execute policies that consider both climate and the recovery of the global economy. This will benefit future generations in Finland and around the world.
Suna Ellen Kymäläinen is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Social Democratic Party of Finland representing the South-Eastern Finland constituency.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
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