Lauri Ihalainen (SDP) has drawn attention to the risks associated with basing the national climate and energy strategy largely on biofuels and wood use.
Lauri Ihalainen (SDP) has drawn attention to the risks associated with basing the national climate and energy strategy largely on biofuels and wood use.

The Finnish Government's decision to base its newly-published climate and energy strategy on biofuels and wood use is not without its risks, reminds Lauri Ihalainen (SDP).

“The decision to rely so heavily on the utilisation of forests is courageous, as EU-level decisions on how to determine the carbon sink effect of Finnish forests and the sustainability criteria for biomass remain unknown,” he states in a press release.

The European Union's estimate of the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the country's forests, he points out, is considerably lower than estimates drawn up in Finland.

Strategy outlines key climate and energy policy measures until 2030

- The Government approved the climate and energy strategy for 2030 on 24 November, 2016.

- The strategy lays out concrete measures to meet the climate and energy objectives adopted by the Government and the European Union by 2030.

- The strategy prescribes, for example, that the share of renewable energy of total energy consumption should be raised to 50 per cent in the 2020s.

- The long-term objective is to create an entirely carbon-neutral energy system that is based primarily on renewable energy sources.

“The strategy would also raise the timber harvest limits to such a high level that you would have to calculate on there also being room for developing innovative wood products with higher added value,” adds Ihalainen.

“Wood should not become primarily a raw material for pulp and fuel,” he stresses.

Helsingin Sanomat highlighted yesterday that while the country is investing heavily in biofuels, automotive manufacturers around the world are investing in electric cars. “Even an automotive superpower such as Germany is muling over prohibiting vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine,” it wrote.

The Government's objective is to ensure biofuels account for 40 per cent of all transport fuels in 2030.

Ihalainen says he is unsure whether the proposed financial incentives to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles will suffice to raise the number of electric vehicles in the country to 250,000 by 2030 – another target laid out in the climate and energy strategy. “An annual subsidy of 25 million euros […] may not be enough of an incentive for people to buy an electric car,” he writes.

Ihalainen also estimates that the objective to halve oil imports by 2030 and the introduction of new biofuel mix obligations could raise fuel prices and, as a result, inflict unexpected costs on consumers and other energy users.

“It would be important to present calculations about the possible price increases,” he says.

Finland, he states, should strive to be part of the mega-trend of electric transport, technological advancements and the transition to entirely emissions-free transport.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi