Finland has committed to reducing transport emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and altogether by 2045. This is very much needed, since traffic causes about a fifth and private cars alone about 10 percent of Finnish transport emissions.
We need a wide range of measures to make the future of traffic sustainable. We must reduce the need to move around, promote biking and walking, enhance rail transport both within and between cities, and streamline public transit. All these measures decrease the need for private cars.
Rail transport is a low-carbon way to move, and it can be used to replace both driving and flying. The Government’s three big rail projects, One Hour Train between Helsinki and Turku, the Finland Railway between Helsinki and Tampere as well as the East Rail from Helsinki to Lappeenranta and Joensuu via Porvoo and Kouvola are all making progress.
The Capital Region local train network is something other regions should replicate. The Greens have come up with a plan to return local trains to several city regions. The local train pilots would make smooth, sustainable short distance train traffic available to a million Finns in the Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Lappeenranta, Lahti, and Kouvola regions.
Along with local trains, we need more trams in the city regions. In addition to Helsinki, Espoo and Tampere are already building tram networks, and Turku and Vantaa are planning theirs. On top of that, electrifying bus transit makes public transport emissionless as a whole.
We need to promote biking and walking in urban areas of all sizes, but it is especially important in cities. The Government’s aim is to increase biking and walking by 30 percent by 2030. For this to happen, we need better cycle routes and bike parking. City bikes lower the threshold to mix biking with other forms of transportation.
We will have private cars in the future, too. Renewable biofuels are one way to speed up detaching traffic from coal. However, there is a finite supply of sustainable raw materials, and competition over these resources is high. We must get private cars to run on electricity and biogas, so that there is enough liquid biofuels for heavy traffic, where liquid fuels are harder to replace.
Finland’s aim is to increase the amount of electric cars by at least a factor of ten in the next ten years. This means we need a wide network of electric vehicle charging stations in the whole country. We also need effective price steering so that getting an electric car is financially possible for as many people as possible.
Electrifying traffic means we need a lot of emissions-free electricity. We must also be determined in developing battery technology, so that we can decrease the need for battery metals and ensure the sustainability of electric vehicles is this area, too. We must get the precious metals to circulate effectively in the industry.
The Greens want to make low-emission traffic possible for everyone, everywhere in Finland. It means choosing different courses of actions in different parts of the country. We also have to choose methods that are not financially unreasonable for any group of people.
Tiina Susanna Elo is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Green League at the Uusimaa 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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