By Anders Lorenzen
The Finnish government has announced an ambitious law that would see the country become carbon neutral by 2035.
The Finnish government is a left-leaning coalition, consisting of five parties which, with a narrow majority, beat the nationalist Finns party in April’s election. It is led by Social Democratic leader Antti Rinne. Rinne has announced a policy programme that would reduce the country’s fossil-fuel consumption and invest in renewable energy technologies.
This should all lead to the country becoming carbon-neutral by 2035, with the target to be written into Finnish law. This was inevitable after 80 % of Finns had called for urgent action on climate change. In a recent government poll, 80 % of Finnish people surveyed said they felt that urgent action was required on climate change.
This is a huge target set by Finland, and it trumps any policy proposals from any other industrialised nation. To get there, the country has to reduce logging investments, and also its dependency on fossil fuels and peat. The country will also invest in renewable energy, including wind, solar and bioenergy, while heating and transport will need to be electrified.
Questions will also need to be asked about Toppila Power Station in the city of Oulu which is one of the largest peat-fired power plants in the world.
Instead of buying credits for carbon capture projects in other countries, Finland plans to achieve the goal by reducing its own carbon emissions, although this policy will be reviewed in 2025.
To get there, Finland aims to raise €730 million (£650 million) through taxes, including those on fossil fuels, and by selling off state assets. This money will be used for the carbon programme and improvements to the country’s welfare system.
Prime Minister Rinne was keen to stress that the transition must happen in a fair way: “We are determined to tackle the challenge of climate change. But it needs to be done in a socially fair way” he said.
As of yet no policies have been unveiled describing how Finland will achieve the ambitious targets.
This could be seen as another stepping stone toward increased focus and action on more ambitious climate change policies in the Nordic region. Only last year the Swedish government enacted an ambitious climate law. And last week in Denmark’s general election, the centre-left parties won the most votes, with climate change one of the main policy points. The incoming prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, is being pushed by her support parties to form a strong and ambitious climate policy.
Antti Rinne is the first leftist prime minister Finland has had for 20 years.