Finland will begin exploring the possibility of phasing out the use of coal in energy production five years ahead of schedule, by 2025, reveals Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing.
The Finnish government originally adopted the objective of phasing out the use of coal for energy in the national energy and climate strategy for 2030.
Tiilikainen points out in a press release that the use of coal has in recent years increased markedly at municipally owned co-generation plants, making the plants one of the major sources of emissions in Finland in 2016.
“We must make it easier for municipal energy companies to let go of coal. Revisions that improve the competitiveness of natural gas relative to coal must be introduced to energy taxation as early as at the beginning of 2019,” he states, estimating that increasing the competitiveness of natural gas should also promote the use of biogas.
The European Union will similarly have to consider adopting more ambitious climate goals sooner rather than later, according to Tiilikainen. The more member states decide to phase out coal use and the more ambitious the schedule, he adds, the easier it will become to adopt stricter emissions reduction targets within the framework of the emissions trading scheme.
His proposal to phase out coal use five years ahead of the initial schedule was rejected by Finnish Energy (ET).
The proposal is not only needless and expensive, it also would fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, argues Jukka Leskelä, the chief executive of ET.
“Instead, it would erode the protection of property afforded under the constitution, have an unpredictable impact on the fuel market, and inflict considerable costs on customers or taxpayers,” he argues.
ET predicts that coal use in energy production will decrease to an all but negligible level over the next decade or so as a consequence of decisions made independently by energy companies.
“The ban [on coal use] and expedited schedule will raise energy production costs, limit the possibilities of energy companies to invest in new technologies and undermine their profitability,” explains Leskelä.
Finland’s coal use, he adds, currently falls in its entirety within the scope of the emissions trading scheme of the EU. “If we prohibit coal use and reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, it would allow other EU countries to emit more. It would change nothing in terms of the carbon balance of the atmosphere, even though energy production costs have risen in the cold north.”
The proposal to adjust energy taxation in a way that promotes the transition away from coal towards natural gas, on the other hand, was welcomed by ET.
“It is pleasing to see that the minister has heard the message from companies in the sector about the need to reinforce the emphasis placed on the climate in fuel taxation. We have repeatedly proposed that the focus of energy taxation be shifted towards taxing emissions. We are eagerly waiting for further details,” he says.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi