FINLAND must make sure it backs its ambitious climate and environmental goals with concrete actions, states the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD on Monday published its first review of environmental policy performance in the country in over a decade, lauding the country for its ambitious climate policy and objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2035. The objectives, it viewed, cannot be achieved with the current measures and their current pace of implementation.
“It is not enough to have a goal, but we must also realise the goal. In order to do so, we have to take further action,” echoed Minister of Environment and Climate Change Emma Kari (Greens).
The Finnish government, she reminded, is set to outline its course of action in the upcoming climate and energy strategy and the climate plan for 2035.
She estimated that the policy review offers sound advice also for devising the national commitment to implementing the biodiversity strategy of the European Union. The strategy steers national efforts particularly when it comes to safeguarding the biodiversity of forest areas, according to Kari.
The OECD stated that agriculture and forestry exert particular pressure on biodiversity in Finland. The situation, it added, has not improved as a result of policy action, with up to 48 per cent of habitats in the country – especially forests, grasslands and swamps – categorised as endangered in 2019.
Challenges persist also in the area of responsible consumption and production.
Setting a clear timeline for stopping the energy use of peat is one of many concrete measures floated by the OECD. Finland, it recommends, should channel funding from its air pollution control programme to reducing fine particulate matter pollution by means such as decreasing small-scale wood burning and amending regulations on studded tyres and sauna heaters.
“Small-scale wood burning causes about half of pollution from fine particulate matter,” the report highlights. “The relatively old vehicle fleet and the high share of coal, peat and biomass burning are major sources of nitrogen oxides.”
Finland is also encouraged to prioritise recycling and waste management, as well as promote new business models, by adopting a waste pricing system based on type and weight in order to become a leader in circular economy.
The dependency on cars should be reduced by investing in urban planning and public transport and scrapping policies that promote car ownership, such as tax-free parking at workplaces and minimum requirements for parking space.
“It should enable the introduction of congestion charges in Helsinki and other urban areas facing congestion problems, as well as consider distance-based road pricing for heavy goods vehicles,” it said. “Finland should build on its mobility-as-a-service experiments to develop multi-modal networks across the country based on enhanced public transport.”
Finland has the tools to achieve its goals, according to the OECD. The country can rely increasingly on its renewable energy sources and utilise its experiences with financial incentives.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT