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Climate change mitigation - Drivers and pressures (Finland)

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Climate change mitigation - Drivers and Pressures
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010


The Finnish economy in which energy intensive export oriented industries (pulp and paper, metals) play a major role is one of the main drivers behind Finland's high green house gas emissions per capita. The development of the economy has also lead to increasing transports from and to Finland. The changes in society that have lead to a concentration of the population into regions with urban development and at the same urban sprawl have contributed to increasing travelling distances within Finland and the use of private cars instead of public transport. The development of housing and built environments has also contributed to an increase in the use of energy and natural resources.


Energy use

The total energy consumption is now about five-fold compared to the consumption in 1950. The increasing trend has been quite stable (Total energy consumption 1970–2007, Finland - State of environment 2008, p 6). One exception to this was in 2005 when the consumption temporarily decreased due to the exceptionally mild winter and major stoppages in the forest industry. The economic recessions have also affected the level of energy consumption. In general, the total energy consumption and the electricity consumption correlate rather well but the changes in the GDP do not always directly reflect consumption levels. The latest economic recession, however, caused a remarkable decrease in all three (Changes in GDP, Final energy consumption and electricity consumption 1995–).


The heating of buildings causes about 30 % of the greenhouse gas emissions. The Ministry of the Environment has launched several initiatives aiming to reduce the emissions. The energy audit was introduced in 2008, and since 2009 also the old buildings need to have energy audit when an apartment or real estate is sold. The National Building Code has been reviewed to tighten the energy efficiency requirements. As a result, an improvement of 30 % in energy efficiency is demanded from 2010 onwards, and a further demand for an improvement of 20 % is planned to be in force in 2012. Furthermore, the implementation of the directive on the energy performance of buildings is underway.



Transport is one of the driving forces behind emissions to air, thus affecting air quality and climate change. The share of transport in the GHG emissions is 17–19 %. The vehicle mileage has been increasing steadily (Finland - State of environment 2008, p 12, Finnish Road Statistics 2009, p 10-12). The emissions of many pollutants have, however, decreased in many cases. The carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide N2O are exceptions in this respect. The CO2 emissions have been in a steady increase that is estimated to continue. The N2O has also been increasing but it is expected that the emissions will start to decrease around 2009-2010.[1]


Recent studies of the development of the road transport demand[2] show that in 2007–2040 the volume would be about 46 500 million vehicle-kilometres. Compared to the 2007 level of c. 35 000 million vehicle-kilometres this would mean a growth of 34 %. The annual growth would decrease during this period from nearly 2 % to ½ %. The regional variations in growth range from 10 % to 51 %. The prognosis is based on the 2007 scenario of the population in 2040 (total increase 9 %, regional development, and age distribution).


The rail transport mileage in 2008 was approximately 32 000 gross tonnes kilometres hauled. The prognosis until 2025 is that the mileage will decrease by 2 000–3 000 due to the decreasing amount of diesel locomotive mileage in freight transport. All other main modes of rail transport are expected to stay at the recent level.


Greenhouse gas emissions

The GHG emission estimates for 2008 show that the emissions were 70.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The amount is clearly lower than the emissions in the two previous years, and is now 1.2 % below the Kyoto Protocol commitment level. The energy sector, including transport, produces the main part of the greenhouse gas emissions (Greenhouse gas emissions 1990–2008). The energy sector is also the main cause of the variations in emissions between years. Within the energy sector, the emissions from energy industries vary most from year to year (Emissions in the energy sector 1990–2008).

[1] LIPASTO is a calculation system for traffic exhaust emissions and energy consumption in Finland developed by the Technical Research Centre of Finland. The main page of LIPASTO gives access to the information also by transport mode.

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