Wednesday February 21, 2024

Collapse of carbon sinks jeopardises success of emission targets

Published : 18 Mar 2023, 02:49

  DF Report
Photo: Ministry of the Environment.

The measures to reduce emissions have progressed as planned, but the trend in carbon sinks jeopardises the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2035, according to the main conclusion of the last meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Climate and Energy Policy.

During this government term the key elements of the Government Programme concerning climate and energy policy and policy on the natural environment have been implemented as planned, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, said the Ministry of the Environment in a press release on Friday referring to the Working Group findings.

While the actions to reduce emissions have progressed as planned, the collapse of the carbon sink in the land use sector causes problems with respect to the achievement of both Finland’s climate targets and the EU commitments.

In 2021 the land use sector was for the first time a source of emissions, instead of serving as a carbon sink. The carbon sink has shown a declining trend for several years.

The Climate Act was reformed, and the Government approved and Parliament considered the Medium-term Climate Plan and Climate Plan for the Land Use Sector prepared under the Climate Act.

Besides these, the Government drew up a separate Climate and Energy Strategy. These plans present the measures to achieve the emission reduction obligations and the climate neutrality target by 2035. The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan that is also part of the climate policy planning system was updated.

One important decision that will promote climate action was the adoption of the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland, which will boosts investments in the green transition through EU recovery funding and national funding that supports it.

National and EU funding has been used to support e.g. phasing out oil heating, constructing charging infrastructure for electric cars, producing clean energy and renewing the vehicle fleet to promote low-emission vehicles. The estimated emission reduction impact is as high as three million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

In January, the Ministerial Working Group outlined different ways to strengthen Finland’s net sink and set up a working group of public officials to explore and prepare new measures. Preliminary results of this work will be available to be used in the government coalition talks.

“During this government term we achieved a major shift in Finland’s climate policy: we decided that Finland will be carbon neutral by 2035, and we have promoted the green transition in both private households and companies. However, the collapse of carbon sinks in the land use sector puts Finland’s climate work at risk. The most important climate action by the next Government will be to put together a rescue package for carbon sinks, and the preparations we have now launched will offer tools for this,” said Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and chair of the Ministerial Working Group.