The Finnish government has committed to halving emissions from transport by 2030 and eliminating them entirely by 2045. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


A TASK FORCE at the Ministry of Transport and Communications says Finland should raise its target for the number of electric vehicles on its roads significantly and increase the cost of carbon dioxide emissions from cars – one way or the other, report YLE and Helsingin Sanomat.

The task force published its report on measures to halve emissions from transport from the levels of 2005 by 2030 and eliminate them entirely by 2045.

Both objectives are laid down in the government programme of the five-party ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Both are big asks. Transport is the source of roughly a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and road transport of 94 per cent of all transport emissions. Transport emissions are expected to decrease by roughly 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents with the policy decisions already made, but an additional reduction of 1.55 million tonnes is required to meet the objectives.

The task force underlined yesterday that there is no one silver bullet to reduce or eliminate the emissions.

“The toolkit is large. The recommendations focus on the eco-friendliness of vehicles, energy efficiency, the transport system, subsidies, and pricing and taxation,” stated Sabina Lindström, the chairperson of the task force at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

YLE on Tuesday called particular attention to four measures proposed by the task force: halving the consumption of fossil fuel and diesel by 2030, improving fuel efficiency by renewing the vehicle stock, halting the long-standing increase in vehicle mileage and overhauling transport pricing and taxation.

The task force said the target for the number of electric vehicles should be raised from 250,000 to 700,000, the majority of which should be full electric vehicles.

The Finnish Information Centre of the Automobile Sector has reported that about 6,400 full electric and 33,900 chargeable hybrid vehicles were registered in Finland in late June. Electric cars accounted for 1,900 and chargeable hybrids for 9,500 of the roughly 114,000 new passenger cars registered in the country last year, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The tools to achieve such a dramatic increase, the tax force outlined, could include tax revisions, temporary acquisition subsidies and an emissions trading scheme for transport.

Minister of Transport and Communication Timo Harakka (SDP) reminded at the release event of the report that raising the price of fossil fuels is not without its problems. “It’ll be our last-resort measure if we can’t meet the target otherwise,” he was quoted as saying by Helsingin Sanomat.

He also reminded that the government programme stipulates that low-cost households, residents of sparsely populated areas and export-oriented companies be compensated for fuel price hikes.

The task force viewed that consumers, businesses and the public sector alike should be encouraged to invest in low-emission fuels and technologies.

The vehicle stock, meanwhile, could be renewed by increasing the cost of carbon dioxide emissions, reforming transport-related taxes and utilising acquisition subsidies and scrapping bonuses.

Finns, it added, should also be encouraged to use public transport services or travel by foot or bicycle in an attempt to reduce the total mileage of passenger cars.

If the measures adopted fail to have the desired impact, the government should raise the cost of carbon dioxide emissions by, for example, introducing a national emissions trading scheme similar to that proposed by economists at Aalto University. The scheme would introduce quotas for diesel and petrol emissions that would be auctioned to fuel distributors and contract at an annual rate that results in the targeted reduction in emissions.

The report is related to a roadmap for fossil-free transport that is set to be finalised by year-end and be approved by the government early next year.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT