Environment and Climate Minister Kai Mykkänen.


Finnish Environment Minister Kai Mykkänen has voiced concerns over the European Union's overextension in its climate and forest management directives, advocating for a shift in focus towards a more balanced approach to agriculture and forestry in future Commission work. This critique comes in response to the political backlash against the current Commission's aggressive promotion of the Green Deal, suggesting a need for recalibration to better accommodate the realities of land and forestry management.

Minister Mykkänen highlighted the importance of adopting an industrial approach to carbon management that considers a broader array of climate policy tools. This change, he argues, would benefit Finland by allowing for a more nuanced view of climate policy measures than has previously been the case.

In defense of Finland's forestry interests, Mykkänen underscored ongoing advocacy efforts with Sweden aimed at influencing the next Commission's agenda. These efforts are particularly focused on climate goals for 2040, the quantification of land and forest-based carbon sinks, the development of industrial carbon sequestration, and the advancement of nuclear power technology.

Addressing the contentious issue of forest management and wood procurement, Mykkänen noted the absence of government intervention. Despite a shift in industry from fossil fuels to electricity-based processes—expected to significantly reduce emissions within three decades—Finland's net carbon sink from forests and land use has not met expectations, with net emissions fluctuating without significant progress.

The minister sought a middle-ground solution to integrate environmental responsibility into the market economy sensibly and to move away from polarizing forest debates. He pointed to factors such as the replacement of Russian timber imports and changes in calculation methods as reasons for the decrease in carbon sinks, emphasizing that Finnish forest owners have always managed their forests to the best of their knowledge.

EU regulations on forest restoration, deforestation, and biodiversity, according to Mykkänen, have been overly detailed and intrusive, undermining national sovereignty in forest management. He criticized the EU's regulatory approach as overly meticulous, exemplified by regulations affecting trivial aspects of agricultural building construction, which he views as irrelevant to the scale of Finland's forestry concerns.

Mykkänen called for a new attitude from the next Commission and Parliament, advocating for adherence to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, with the EU focusing on broad directives and leaving detailed regulations to national discretion.

Regarding carbon sequestration, the minister stressed that Finland's forests could not be expected to offset emissions beyond its national commitments. He also mentioned discussions with EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, suggesting that penalizing Finland for any shortfall in its emission targets would pose more issues for the EU than for Finland itself.

The minister concluded that the collective impact of various forest-related initiatives has not been thoroughly assessed by the EU, leaving member states to evaluate these effects independently. This lack of comprehensive analysis complicates the integration of forest management into broader climate policy objectives, necessitating a focus on overarching principles rather than detailed regulatory mandates.