Climate change in Finland
- 1 Climate policy
- 2 Emissions
- 3 Population growth
- 4 Agreements and law
- 5 Coal and peat
- 6 Consequences
- 7 Tourism
- 8 Response
- 9 See also
- 10 References
Climate Strategy 2001
Finnish national renewable energy program was done in 1999 and it was accepted as the national climate strategy in 2001. It included targets for the renewable energy but no limit in the use of the fossil and nuclear energy. The target can be compared to the EU Directive 2001/77/EU that also promoted renewable energy in the 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
The nature and society are strongly impacted by the global climate change and adaptations are needed. For this reason Finland implemented a National Climate Change Adaptation Plan for 2022 which aims to handle the risks associated with climate change and adapt to changes in climate for the Finnish society. The goals of the plan are: A) Adaptation has to 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 need to improve the adaptive capacity of the society, developed innovative solutions and improved citizens’ awareness on climate change adaptation. The aim of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan is to establish the adaptation for the climate change until 2022. The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan implements the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change within Finland..
Finland is a member of the European Union. The EU aims in the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference a legally binding 40% drop in emissions by 2030 against carbon output in 1990 as baseline. 
According to Mr. Heikki Simola Finnish Association for Nature Conservation Finnish forest management has made Finnish forest and mire ecosystems as a considerable net source of carbon into the atmosphere for decades.
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 had resulted from 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
According to Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY Greenhouse gas emissions in 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 Helsinki Region construction 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 %. Ca 80 % of emissions weree from heating and transport. Summary report does not include emissions from air travel and construction nor verify that these emissions were indifferent to climate change. Summary report does not specify domestic industry emissions abroad. E.g. Fortum acquisition of Uniper Germany may increase this company total emissions so meaningfully that foreign emission have importance to climate change. Fortum headquarters is in Espoo Finland.
According to biologist Sesse Koivisto, whose husband contributed in the Helsinki Zoo, Finnish forest company UPM plant is an 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 does the eucalyptus plantations contribute to the carbon sink of nature? Will they promote global warming?
In the Kyoto agreement Sweden was permitted lower emission decline targets based on Nuclear power phase-out. Respectively Finnish emission cut obligations may be increased based on higher nuclear dependency.
Fortum is half state owned energy company. Fortum energy strategy is large investments in the 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 governments support nuclear energy by allocating majority of the risks, accident costs and nuclear waste costs to the tax payers. Finnish nuclear energy is informed to be risk free. According to Helsingin Sanomat reporting same assurance had been 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 decline from (Mtn CO2) 12.48 to 7.4. As linear reduction this objective is annual decline in value of 0.30 from the top year emission 13.36 in 2010. This objective equals maximum emission levels of 12,16 (2014) and 11,56 (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 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 EU to fund in Finnland a liquefied natural gas terminal while in respect to climate change challenge and ongoing 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference Katainen neglected initiatives in fossil-fuel phase-out.
Aviation may have large climate change emission at individual level. If a four person family flies in 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.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector
CO2 emissions broken down by Finland's industrial sectors.
|Emissions and removals, million tonnes CO2 eq.|
|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 Earth. World population grew from 1990 to 2017 in value of 42 %. If population grows, decline of emissions is likely to be more demanding.
Population growth in the Finnish biggest cities from 1990 to 2017 was: Espoo 62%, Oulu 48 %, Vantaa 44% Tampere 34 % ja Helsinki 31 %. > International climate change emission statistics ignore the construction emissions which may distort development. There are empty houses in the smaller cities but more and more new houses are 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. Finnish government has approved that human indused 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.
Coal and peat
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 peat to be renewable energy. However, it is undisputed fact that peat is formed during 10,000 years in favourable conditions. Finland has ditched majority of its wetlands. The Finnish peat companies have had activity also abroad like in Sweden, Estonia and Indonesia. According to IEA country report the Finnish subsidies for peat in 2007-2010 undermined the goal to reduce CO2 emissions and counteracted The European Union emissions trading scheme.
The state owned research institute VTT director Satu Helynen had close connection with the peat industry in 2010. She proposed for the government to exclude carbon tax for peat in 2010. Moreover, she tried to suppress all the second opinions of her collegees 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."
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.
Extreme weather events
Summer 2010 storms (Asta 29.-30.7 Vera 4.8, Lahja 7.8 and Sylvi 8.8) caused widespread damages. Insurance companies paid 81.6 million € for the storm damages. Trees fell 9.1 million m3. 480 000 persons had power line brakes, max 6 weeks. 35 000 km of the power line was damaged. Compensations 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 organizations and persons did not run effectively after the storms.
Storm Tapani hit Finland on St Stephen's Day 26.12.2011. The previous storm of this type in Finland was Janika in November 2001. A highest momentary gust on land was 31.5 m/s. On 27.12.2011 at highest over 300,000 homes had no electricity.
In 2013, autumn storm Eino resulted in over 200,000 homes becoming dark in Finland, ca 10% of families. Maximum wind speed was 27.3 m/s in land and 32.9 m/s in see.
Climate change by region
Uusimaa target is to be carbon zero in 2050. Lohja, Raasepori, Siuntio and Hanko have target to decline the emissions 80% from 2007 to 2030. In 2013 Uusimaa emissions were close to year 1995 level and in Uusimaa there was no decline in emissions since year 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 1980´s, the christmas tourism has emerged in Finnish Lapland, as an image of that being a winter wonderland has developed, creating job opportunities but also a tourism which success is depending on cold temperatures and snow. The revenue of the Finnish tourism industry was 16,2 billion USD in 2015, and is expected to reach 18,6 billion USD 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, has developed a dependency of snowy landscapes among entrepreneurs, 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 binding carbon is equally important as to decline the carbon emissions. WWF recommends in 2018 to save more forests and specially the old forests from energy use in Finland. According to WWF forests in Finland bind carbon on 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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- https://www.hsy.fi/fi/asiantuntijalle/ilmastonmuutos/hillinta/seuranta/Sivut/Paastot.aspx Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority] Greenhouse gas emissions. Note More detailed data in Finnish
- Helsingin Sanomat 23.10.2018 B10
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- Finnish climate heating up, says meteorological institute YLE 29.3.2019
- Climate in Finland has become warmer
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- Storm on St Stephen's Day was rare, Finnish Meteorological Institute 28.12.2011
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- Summer heat wave continues
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