Minister of the Environment Kai Mykkänen (NCP) spoke at a news conference in Helsinki on 20 November 2023, outlining the Finnish and EU goals for Cop-28 in Dubai. Mykkänen is pleased with many elements of a newly released preliminary vision for the 2040 climate goals of the EU, reports Helsingin Sanomat. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION and Finnish government are largely on the same page in terms of the climate targets of the EU for 2040, views Minister of the Environment Kai Mykkänen (NCP).

“In terms of measures, this communication moves in the direction also represented by the Finnish government. It’s moving forward with an emphasis on industrial investments and technological neutrality, on using nuclear power and carbon capture technologies more evenly than today on the road to a carbon-neutral Europe,” he said to Helsingin Sanomat on 6 February.

The European Commission last week published a communication on the climate targets of the 27-country bloc for 2040, proposing that the bloc set its sights on a 90-per-cent reduction in emissions from the level of 1990. The 90-per-cent target, it argued, would only necessitate a slight acceleration of emission reductions as current steering measures alone would achieve an 88-per-cent reduction by 2040.

The European Union has pledged to reduce emissions by 55 per cent by 2030.

Mykkänen stated to the newspaper that the government would form its position on the proposed target later. What the government considers important, he added, is that climate measures are cost effective and technology neutral – meaning member states have the leeway to determine how to strive toward the target.

The communication is a step in that very direction, he argued. The European Commission, for example, is placing greater emphasis on nuclear power and even sets out the goal of building the first small modular reactors in Europe.

“For the past 30 years, the EU has shunned developing nuclear power but now it’s highlighted as a key measure,” highlighted Mykkänen.

He also welcomed the decision not to introduce more ambitious targets for natural carbon sinks, such as forests, for the 2030s. The European Commission instead granted a larger role to carbon-capture and utilisation solutions in reducing emissions.

“The carbon sink target that’d be left for the land use sector is at the same level as 2030. Luckily the commission isn’t proposing unreasonable additions. Finland doesn’t see those as realistic,” he said.

The commission also drew praise from the minister for seeing potential in the development of solutions for capturing and utilising biogenic, or wood-based, carbon-dioxide emissions. Finland and Sweden are “major powers” in capturing wood-based carbon dioxide emissions, according to Mykkänen.

“We get more wood-based carbon dioxide from factory smokestacks than any other EU country. If a sizeable share of this can be captured and turned into business, we can use our forest resources more diversely and precisely and use them to make Finland and Sweden carbon negative without unreasonably big emissions cuts in other sectors,” he argued to Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen  - HT

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