Climate change in Finland
In January 2020 99% of Finns said action must be taken to stop climate change.
Climate Strategy 2001
Finnish national renewable energy program was completed in 1999 and it was accepted as the national climate strategy in 2001. It included targets for renewable energy but no limit on the use of fossil and nuclear energy. The target is comparable to the EU Directive 2001/77/EU, which also promoted the use of renewable energy for electricity production.
The government ordered the evaluation report, published in February 2003, from the Electrowatt-Ekono Oy that was part of Pöyry. Pöyry is a national and international company having tradition in the development and consulting of the forest industry. According to this evaluation report Finland's national target was to increase during 1995-2010:
- Renewables of primary energy +36 TWh (achieved 1995-2001: 17 TWh)
- Renewables of electricity +8,35 TWh (achieved 1995-2001: 3,1 TWh)
- Bioenergy +33 TWh (achieved 1995-2001 16 TWh)
- Bioelectricity +6,2 TWh (achieved 1995–2001: 2,8 TWh)
- Hydropower +1 TWh (achieved 1995–2010, 23 TWh)
- Wind power +1.1 TWh (494 MW) (achieved 1995-2001 59 GWh 32 MW)
- Solar energy 50 GWh warming 50 GWh electricity 40 MW capacity (achieved 1995-2001 2 GWh 1 GWh 1,5 MW)
- Heat pumps 1 TWh (achieved 1995-2001 250 GWh)
Finland’s National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2022
Nature and society are strongly impacted by global climate change, and adaptations are needed. For this reason, Finland implemented the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan for 2022 which aims to handle the risks associated with climate change and adapt to the changing climate for Finnish society. The goals of the plan are: A) Adaptation must be integrated into the planning and activities in different sectors and their stakeholders; B) Stakeholders need to have access to climate change assessment and management methods and C) Research and development, communication and education must improve the adaptive capacity of the society, develop innovative solutions and improv citizens’ awareness of climate change adaptation. The aim of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan is to establish measures for adaptation to climate change until 2022. The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan implements the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change within Finland.
In 2019 Finland's government is committed to carbon neutrality by 2035 and to become carbon negative soon after that. Each Parliament of Finland is elected for four years period. In average Finland's climate target imply 25% carbon emission decline in each sector during each parliament period.
Carbon neutrality will have consequences in taxes: Finnish state collects significant taxes from fossil fuel traffic: State vehicle taxes in 2018 were in total €8,100 million including (millions round up or down): new vehicle 1,000, vehicle in traffic €1,200, fuels €2,700, VAT fuel €1,200, VAT new vehicle €900, VAT vehicle reparation €800 and tax insurances €400. Methane and liquefied petroleum gas have no fuel tax. Commercial aviation have no fuel tax. Private aviation has no fuel tax. Commercial ships have no fuel tax.
Population of three biggest cities in metropolitan capital area was 21% of total population of Finland in 2018: Helsinki 650,000, Espoo 285 000 and Vantaa 230 000. As passages volumes in 2018 free local collective traffic would cost annually in Helsinki €215 million, In Espoo €215 million and in Vantaa €215 million. Helsinki local traffic aims to have at least half of the busses electric in 2030 and 400 electric busses in 2025.
According to Finnaviation there was 26 million aviation travels in Finland in 2019. Number increased 4 % compared to 2018. Airports include at least Helsinki-Vantaa, Turku, Rovaniemi, Oulu and Tampere. According to statistics Finland in 2018 population was 5,518 people. This makes approximately in average 4.71 air travels per each citizen in Finland in 2019.
Citizens' initiative to aviation tax was made in February 2020.
Climate warming emissions of construction was not taxed in Finland in January 2020.
Finland is a member of the European Union. The EU has set a goal in the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference of a legally binding 40% drop in emissions by 2030, using 1990 levels of carbon output as a baseline.
According to Mr. Heikki Simola of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, for decades, Finnish forest management practices have resulted in significant net releases of carbon into the atmosphere from Finnish forest and mire ecosystems.
In 2016, Finland's carbon dioxide emissions amounted to 58.8 million tonnes; 12.5 million tonnes less than the amount in 1990. However, this figure was a 6 per cent increase from 2015; nevertheless, it is still 18 per cent lower than in 1990. The largest factors explaining the growth in emissions between 2015-16 were the increase in coal consumption and the decline in the proportion of biofuels used in transport. Emissions grew in some sectors. These sectors include energy, where it went up by eight per cent (or 3.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent); industrial processes, where product use increased by four per cent (or 0.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent). Emissions from agriculture grew by one per cent (or 0.04 million tonnes of CO2). Emissions from transport rose by 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, and from the production of electricity and heat, they rose by 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
Approximately 60% of Finland's anthropogenic methane emissions—3.17 MMTCO2e—come from agriculture (manure management), municipal solid waste and natural gas and oil systems. A majority of the remainder comes from enteric fermentation.
According to the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), greenhouse gas emissions in the Helsinki region in 2017 were 5 million tn CO2, including transportation, 1.4 million tn and heating, 2.6 million tn. According to professor Seppo Junnila, climate gas emissions from construction in the Helsinki Region in 2017 were 2 million tn CO2: more than from transportation and almost 1.5 times transportation emissions.
Year 2017 climate gas emissions compared to 1990 were in Helsinki - 24%, Espoo + 8%, Vantaa +2% and Kauniainen -9%. About 80% of emissions were from heating and transport. The summary report does not include emissions from air travel and construction nor verify that these emissions were indifferent to climate change. The summary report does not specify domestic industry emissions abroad. E.g. Fortum's acquisition of Uniper Germany may increase this company's total emissions so meaningfully that foreign emissions impact climate change. Fortum's headquarters is in Espoo Finland.
According to professor Seppo Junnila carbon foot print was twice as big in the new houses compared to more spacious detached house areas in 2003–2012 in Finland, In the city carbon foot print was 11.7 tn and suburb 8 tn per person.
Municipal emissions were calculated in 2020 excluding industry, construction, aviation and foreign shipping. For example, aviation was not included in evaluation. The Swedish aviation emissions are in total approximately equal to the emissions from the Swedish passenger vehicle traffic. 
According to biologist Sesse Koivisto, whose husband contributed to the Helsinki Zoo, Finnish forest company UPM plant is a source of ecological risk in Uruguay. In November 2017 UPM aims to build the biggest cellulose plant in the world in Uruguay. The plant will use planted eucalyptus forests as raw material. According to Sesse Koivisto, eucalyptus use a lot of water and will contaminate the soil. Concerns include following: Is there risk that endemic forest area will decline directly or indirectly because of the new eucalyptus areas? How do the eucalyptus plantations contribute to the carbon sink of nature? Will they promote global warming?
Uniper and Datteln is an example how national CO2 -emission data is distorted. Transparency would demand reporting the foreign based emissions also in the country of ownership. Only this one foreign company has total emissions that would blow up the aims to decline emissions in Finland. Uniper and Finland do not report foreign based emissions in Finland.
Finland's biggest energy firm, Fortum, became the largest owner of a heavily-polluting German company Uniper. Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe claimed that due to its stake in Uniper, Fortum is involved in energy production that is linked to hundreds of premature deaths annually in Europe and sets back efforts to slow climate change. According to Greenpeace Fortum become a major player in Europe's fossil fuel exit. With ca 50 % of Uniper, Fortum's total carbon footprint is bigger than that of the whole of Finland's.
In 2020 Uniper aims to open a new coal plant Datteln 4 in Germany. It was criticised by environmentalists in February 2020.
Coal and peat
Finland will phase-out coal in 2029, compared to 2025 in the UK, 2022 in France and 2030 in Denmark. In 2018 there was zero new installed wind power in Finland to replace coal. This was due to Sipilä government wind power policy concerned of the negative influence of wind power.
According to UNEP peatlands are the main carbon storage and their protection is one of the main issues in the climate change mitigation. Peat land drainage destroys the habitat of many species, and heavily fuels climate change. Peat is the most harmful energy source for global warming in Finland.
In conflict with the EU, IEA and IPCC reports Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry claim that peat is renewable energy. However, it is an undisputed fact that peat is formed over 10,000 years in favourable conditions. Finland has ditched the majority of its wetlands. The Finnish peat companies have also been active abroad, in Sweden, Estonia and Indonesia. According to an IEA country report the Finnish subsidies for peat in 2007-2010 undermined the goal of reducing CO2 emissions and counteracted the European Union emissions trading scheme.
The director of the state owned research institute VTT, Satu Helynen, had close connections with the peat industry in 2010. She proposed that the government should exclude carbon tax for peat in 2010. Moreover, she tried to suppress all the second opinions of her colleagues in VTT in conflict with the freedom of speech and research ethics. After this conflict came public VTT wrote new directions following: "Scientists should prevent all criticism of the content of VTT publications publicly after the publications."
Peat energy and peat land use
Use of peat as energy and land is responsible for a third of all Finnish climate change emissions. This includes energy use, agriculture and digging ditches. Digging ditches in peat forests is also one of the major reducers of biodiversity in Finland. According to Statistics Finland use of peat as energy created 8 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2018. This includes emissions from peat storage and peat production area. Digging ditches in peatland fields in Finland created 6 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. According to Statistics Finland. digging ditches in forest lands in Finland results in 7 million tons of CO2 emission annually.
Fortum is a half state owned energy company. Fortum's energy strategy is large investments in nuclear energy in Finland, Sweden and Russia. According to Financial Times, Fortum aims to invest 15 per cent in a controversial Finnish nuclear power plant to be built by Rosatom, the Russian state-owned energy company. Fortum has saved no funds to invest in the new renewable energy forms. Until end of 2014 Finnish governments have given no obligations in the new renewables for companies, industry or municipals. Russia had interest to build and share own a nuclear plant in Finland in 2014 during the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine and 2014 Crimean crisis. Unlike Finland most other European countries demanded to decline energy dependency from Russia.
The Finnish government supports nuclear energy by allocating the majority of the risks, accident costs and nuclear waste costs to the tax payers. Nuclear energy in Finland is alleged to be risk free, which is the same assurance that was given in Japan before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Finland was among the top five greenhouse gas emitters in 2001: The consumption emissions per capita of greenhouse gases in 2001 of the top 5 countries were US 29 tonnes, Australia 21 tonnes, Canada 20 tonnes, Switzerland 18 tonnes and Finland 18 tonnes.
European Union aims in 2014 demanding targets to decline emissions 40% from 1990 level to 2030. In Finnish traffic this goal demands a decline from 12.48 Mtn CO2 to 7.4 Mtn CO2. As a linear reduction this objective is an annual decline in value of 0.30 Mtn CO2 from the top year emission 13.36 Mtn CO2 in 2010. This objective equals maximum emission levels of 12.16 Mtn CO2 (2014) and 11.56 Mtn CO2 (2016). Finnish traffic warming emissions (million tonnes CO2) were:
- 1990 - 12.48
- 2008 - 13.42
- 2009 - 12.75
- 2010 - 13.36
- 2011 - 13.23
- 2012 – 12.68
In the Katainen Cabinet, minister Merja Kyllönen asked a leader of the multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell representative as head of the committee to give recommendations for the future traffic policy in Finland.
Jyrki Katainen suggested in December 2014 that the EU should fund a liquefied natural gas terminal in Finland. However, neglected initiatives in the fossil-fuel phase-out climate change challenge and ongoing 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Aviation using fossil fuels may have large climate change emissions at individual level. If a four-person family flies to Thailand, its climate emissions are according to Finnair 15 000000-20 000 kg CO2. This is equal to 170 000 km with a car. In most European countries the fuel for planes is tax free, also in Finland. Thereby Finland lost €63 million tax revenues in 2012. Finland have supported the air fields with €20 million annually. European commercial aviation is supported with €27 billion annually. If European Union would collect 15% VAT from flights in European Union income would be €11 billion.
Emissions of foreign flights in Finland are about equal to traffic emission in land. The total warming effect is at least twice the one caused by carbon dioxide emissions, multiplying factor may be between 2 and 5. It is influenced by water vapor and nitrogen oxides. Car traffic is 10 % of Finland's total warming emissions 6,5 million ton CO2. Aviation emissions are 4 million tons multiplied with 2 gives 8 million tons CO2. Aviation emissions have doubled in 20 years in Finland, Finland's aviation statistics do not report international flights emissions created abroad.
Deforestation is 6% of Finland's total climate warming emissions. Forests which are cut down for buildings, roads and new fields total 19 000 hectares annually. The Rinne Cabinet of Prime Minister Antti Rinne has aimed to tax building in forests, but no tariff was in place in August 2019.
In Finland milk and cheese is consumed 350 liter per person a year. Milk is equal to 3-4% of carbon emissions. This is equal to one air travel to Mallorca and back. One cow emits 850 liters methane a day. 16,000 cows produce 50GWh gas which equal 5000 cars use. Climate panel demand 1⁄4 reduction of cows by 2035.
Greenhouse gas emissions by sector
Carbon dioxide emissions broken down by Finland's industrial sectors.
|Emissions and removals, million tonnes CO2 equivalent|
|Emissions without LULUCF sector||71.3||71.9||70.1||69.8||75.5||63.1||58.9||55.4||58.9|
|Manufacturing industries and construction||13.7||12.4||12.2||11.6||10.2||8.6||7.2||6.9||7.3|
|Industrial processes and products use||5.4||5.0||6.0||6.7||6.1||5.9||5.7||5.9||6.1|
|Industrial processes (excl. F-gases )||5.3||4.9||5.2||5.6||4.7||4.4||4.2||4.4||4.7|
|Consumption of F-gases||0.1||0.2||0.7||1.1||1.4||1.5||1.5||1.5||1.4|
|Indirect CO2 emissions||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1|
If everybody consumed like the Finns we would need five Earths. World population grew from 1990 to 2017, by 42%. If the population grows, decline of emissions is likely to be even more challenging.
Population growth in the biggest Finnish cities from 1990 to 2017 was: Espoo 62%, Oulu 48%, Vantaa 44% Tampere 34%, and Helsinki >31 %, while total population growth in all of Finland during this time span has been less than 10%. International climate change emission statistics ignore construction emissions which may distort development. There are empty houses in Finland's smaller cities, but more and more new houses are being built in the big cities.
Agreements and law
Finland is a member of the EU and thus the EU directives are binding in Finland. Finland has approved Kyoto protocol. The Finnish government accepts that human induced greenhouse gases cause the global warming. Despite this the most harmful use of peat as energy has been financially promoted by Finnish government since 2005. Regarding the climate change expenses, the Polluter Pay-principle has been neglected in Finland at least until 2011.
Between March 2019 to 2010 there were 102 days with record daily temperatures reported, clearly more than at any time in the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s (FMI) measurement history. According to FMI temperature patterns show that Finland is experiencing climate change.
The annual Finnish mean temperature has risen 2.3 °C since the middle of the 19th century. Warming has been greatest in early winter, nearly 5 °C. The month of July 2018 in Finland had the highest-ever temperatures recorded by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. (FMI) FMI was founded in 1838.
Two first 2 weeks in January 2020 Finland had the mildest winter in 100 years.
Extreme weather events
Summer 2010 storms (Asta 29.-30.7 Vera 4.8, Lahja 7.8 and Sylvi 8.8) caused widespread damage. Insurance companies paid €81.6 million for the storm damages. Trees fell 9.1 million m3. 480 000 persons had power line breaks, up to 6 weeks. 35 000 km of the power line was damaged. Compensation costs were over €10 million for the power customers. Other power company costs included €18 million for the repair and $4 million for extra investments. Co-operation between the responsible organisations and persons did not run effectively after the storms.
Storm Tapani hit Finland on St Stephen's Day in 2011. The previous storm of this type in Finland was Janika in November 2001. The highest momentary gust on land was 31.5 m/s. Power outages peaked on December 12, 2011, when over 300,000 homes had no electricity.
In 2013, autumn storm Eino resulted in over 200,000 Finnish homes losing power, impacting about 10% of Finnish families. Maximum wind speed was 27.3 m/s in land and 32.9 m/s in sea.
Climate change by region
Uusimaa has set a target of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050. Lohja, Raasepori, Siuntio and Hanko have set targets to reduce emissions 80% from 2007 to 2030. In 2013 Uusimaa emissions were close to 1995 levels. Uusimaa has seen no decline in emissions since 2007.
Finland, and especially the northern rural parts of the country, has a variety of nature-based tourism attractions, such as down-hill skiing, snowmobiling and dog sledding. Since the 1980s, Christmas tourism has emerged in Finnish Lapland. Lapland's image as a winter wonderland tourist destination has created job opportunities, but also means that the success of its tourist industry is dependent on cold temperatures and snow. The revenue of the Finnish tourism industry was 16,2 billion USD in 2015, and is expected to reach US$18.6 billion in 2020. About 97% of the Finnish population takes part in recreational activities, and about 40% participates in nature-based tourism.
According to climate change projections, the crucial changes in temperature will occur during the winter where the predicted warming until 2040 is 1.2-5 °C. This change in temperature will decrease the number of days where temperature is below 0 °C, and scientists predict that the date of the first frost will occur 15–30 days later than today, while the last frost day will occur 15–30 days earlier than today. The number of days with snow cover is predicted to decrease to 40–60 days at the end of the 21st century where the greatest decrease will happen in the south-western parts of Finland, compared to today's annual number of 120 (in southern Finland) - 240 (in northern Finland) days with snow cover. The winter precipitation is predicted to increase, which in short term may lead increasing levels of snow in the northern and central parts of Finland, but long-term, it might lead to a diminished snow cover in the entire country.
With warmer temperatures, winter precipitation may fall as rain to a greater extent than at present day, which could decrease the snow cover depth and lead to icy surfaces, hindering movement and change the aesthetics of the landscape. A decrease in snow and ice and changes in the quality of the snow, is considered a threat for many nature-based tourism activities, but a shorter winter season is, however, not a threat for all entrepreneurs, such as those arranging downhill skiing. The entrepreneurs arranging snowmobiling and dog sledding, are considered vulnerable since their activities require large areas and plenty of snow. The concept of Finland being a winter wonderland and the home of Santa Claus, means that entrepreneurs depend on snowy landscapes, building great expectations among tourists. A change in snow quality and a delay in the season where snow is abundant, may lead to a decrease in number of tourists.
According to WWF carbon sequestration is equally important to decrease the carbon emissions. In 2018, WWF recommended increased forest conservation in Finland, and especially the prevention of the use of old-growth forests for energy generation. According to WWF forests in Finland bind carbon in soil twice as much as the forest trees. According to WWF Finnish agriculture emit soil carbon dioxide 37 million tonnes annually compared to 12 million tonnes CO2 from traffic in 2017.
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