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Sitra rolls out pro-climate lifestyle as Nat´l goal

16 May 2019, 19:35 ( 3 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
City of Helsinki photo by Matti Miinalainen.

The Finnish public service think tank Sitra is calling for sharp lifestyle changes in Finland to cope with the climate change. In a report published on Thursday, Sitra increased the role of the people and their actions.

Sitra's researchers meanwhile warned against the risks of basing estimates of the future too much on the role of the "carbon sinks" such as forests.

In its vista of a "1.5 degree lifestyle", Sitra said the annual footprint of a Finn would be reduced from the current 10.4 tons to 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide in a year. Besides Finland, the Sitra report also reflected the needs in Japan.

In practice, Sitra suggested that all leisure travel would use public transit. The measure would take off 15 percent of the average carbon footprint of a Finn, or 1,560 kilograms.

Switching to totally vegan diets would reduce by 11 percent, or 1,120 kilograms. But a diet that also includes milk and eggs would reduce by 900 kilograms only.

Switching to an electric car would reduce by 1,060 kg and a hybrid by 810 kg. The emissions from automobiles and air transport have increased annually in Finland so far.

Anu Manty, a leading expert at Sitra, admitted to local media that switching to a different type of car or installation of a new heating system does not happen quickly. "But there is a lot more everyday activity that can be altered," she said.

Sitra defined "life style carbon footprint" as emissions caused by household consumption directly or indirectly. Public consumption and infrastructure emissions were not included.  

VALUE OF CARBON SINKS

Sitra has used such climate change calculations where the carbon sinks have not played a key role. Manty justified the choice on account of the uncertainties in carbon recovery techniques (CCS). "Changes in lifestyle must be adopted, even though the carbon collection system would be successful later."

Michael Lettenmaier, a researcher from Aalto University, said that the extensive inclusion of carbon sinks in climate calculations is a risk. The sinks may not grow in the way believed. Besides Aalto, Sitra commissioned research also takes place at IGES research center in Japan and Finnish consultant company D-mat.

The Sitra calculations have also taken into account imports to Finland and exports from the country, for example the production of toilet tissue in China from Finnish pulp.

Local commentators have noted that the issue of carbon sinks is important in Finland. Experts of the European Union (EU) recently asked Finland to specify the information Finland had given to the EU about the impact of carbon sinks. This could ultimately lead to a situation where Finland would have to reduce the consumption of forests for industrial needs.

Finland should reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030. This cutback matches the aim of curbing the climate increase to 1.5 percent. For attaining the two degree limit of the Paris accords, a cutback would be 60 percent.

Sitra was established in 1967 as a government donation. With its secure financial basis, Sitra is able to carry out projects that are wider than in most think tanks.