Finland’s coalition government has pledged the country will be carbon neutral by 2035, one of the world’s earliest carbon neutrality targets.
In a press conference held in Helsinki Central Library – to which cabinet members travelled on the tram as a gesture of their commitment to environmental initiatives – incoming Prime Minister Antti Rinne announced that the primary Finnish political parties had all agreed on the measures, after negotiations spanning over a month. The proposals include systemic reform of energy tax protocols, sustainability regulation covering the burning of wood in energy generation and greater investment in nature conservation and public transport options.
In a statement, Sini Harkki of Greenpeace Nordic said: “People demanded faster climate action and that’s what we’re going to get. Building the world’s first fossil free, sustainable society is going to require much more than nice words on paper, but we’re determined to make it happen. It’s an exciting journey we want to embark on.”
The new targets which must be hit in order to ensure a carbon neutral Finland include rapid adoption of renewable energy sources, in tandem with the phasing out of fossil fuels and peat; which currently account for 40% of Finland’s energy generation. The Finnish peat industry is a significant employer in a number of key regions.
Lauri Muranen, a spokesperson for trade unionists’ network SAK, said: “If we want to be serious about this, we will have to phase out peat. That will mean no jobs in peat production. It is not always a nice story to tell people. The main thing is to prepare in time, so it does not come as a surprise. We think it is important that Finland tries to influence the EU and is not just doing it by ourselves.”
The government intends to review its progress towards a carbon neutral Finland in 2025.