Finland seeks higher prices for carbon to save climate
14 Jun 2018, 19:11 ( 9 days ago)
A higher price for carbon was one of the solutions offered to speed up environmental efforts at a high-profile Finnish climate summit held here Wednesday.
Some 500 elite representatives of municipalities, industries and universities gathered in the white marble Finlandia hall in central Helsinki, discussing the need for change and possible solutions.
Veteran French politician Laurent Fabius, who chaired the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, assessed the current situation in the fight against climate change, and mentioned future agricultural methods and carbon pricing in Europe as crucial factors, among others.
Fabius said the world "suffered a major setback" after the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, which "sent a very bad signal" to other countries.
The solution involving carbon pricing was also mentioned by other speakers including Jorma Ollila, former CEO of Nokia and current CEO of steel giant Outokumpu, who said there has not been "a strong enough price signal" that high carbon emissions from production would be bad for business.
The discussions reflected the view that while governments create the framework, citizens and businesses put ideas into practice.
Kristin Skogen Lund, director general of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, Finland's major employers' organization and the leading business lobby, assured that businesses will join the efforts "once they realize there is profit available."
Ollila said that currently only 7 percent of Finnish industrial companies have a strategy that involves climate change matters, but on account of a joint Nordic electricity system, energy efficiency in Finland is at a good level. He also mentioned the steel industry has developed low carbon solutions that are "miles ahead" of those of many other countries.
Outi Honkatukia, the chief Finnish negotiator for climate change, said Finland was the first country in the world to have a carbon tax, and "everyone must do more for the cause, and do it faster."
Ollila suggested that Nordic countries should go alone as a group on carbon issues and not await European Union decisions "as that would mean a ten-year delay." He said he would rather favor carbon trade than taxation, "But if the funds from the tax would be used attractively, people would accept it."
Circular economy was one of the leading themes of the summit organized by the Finnish public think tank Sitra, the Finnish Climate Change Panel and the Finnish Institute for International Affairs.
Anne Berner, Finnish minister for communications and transport, said circular economy is part of our daily lives already, and "We behave differently from the generations before us."
Ollila told the gathering that in the Outokumpu Tornio steel plant, 85 percent of raw material are recycled.
Representatives of Finnish cities reviewed the environmental aspects in their public image. Minna Arve, mayor of Turku, said people would choose where they live in the future on the basis of the environmental record of the cities. "They would choose a place that matches their values," she said.
Turku, some 180 km west of Helsinki, has recently declared that it will become a carbon neutral city by 2029.